September is Sepsis Awareness Month
Infections can put you and your family at risk for a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
What’s The Problem?
Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. Sepsis happens when an infection you already have – in your skin, lungs, urinary tract, or somewhere else – triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. It is life-threatening, and without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
Each year, at least 1.7 million adults in America develop sepsis, and nearly 270,000 Americans die as a result.
The Get Ahead of Sepsis Educational Effort
It’s important that patients, their families and caregivers, and healthcare professionals think about sepsis as a possibility. Get Ahead of Sepsis reminds us all of the importance of early recognition, timely treatment, and preventing infections.
- Sepsis is a medical emergency. Time matters. If you or your loved one suspects sepsis or has an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse, ask your healthcare professional, “Could this infection be leading to sepsis?”
- Anyone can get an infection, and almost any infection can lead to sepsis. Certain people are at higher risk, including adults 65 or older; people with weakened immune systems; people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease; and children younger than one.
- A patient with sepsis might have one or more of the following signs or symptoms:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Shortness of breath
- High heart rate
- Fever, or shivering, or feeling very cold
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Clammy or sweaty skin
What Can Patients Do?
Patients and their families should prevent infections, be alert to the signs and symptoms of sepsis, and seek immediate medical care if sepsis is suspected or for an infection that is not getting better or is getting worse.
- Talk to your doctor or nurse about steps you can take to prevent infections. Some steps include taking good care of chronic conditions and getting recommended vaccines.
- Practice good hygiene, such as handwashing, and keeping cuts clean and covered until healed.
- Know the signs and symptoms of sepsis.
- ACT FAST. Get medical care immediately if you suspect sepsis or have an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse.
What Can Healthcare Professionals Do?
Get Ahead of Sepsis encourages healthcare professionals to know sepsis signs and symptoms, identify and treat patients early, act fast if they suspect sepsis, know their facility’s existing guidance for diagnosing and managing sepsis, prevent infections, and educate patients and their families. If healthcare professionals suspect sepsis, they should:
- Immediately alert the clinician in charge if it is not you.
- Start antibiotics as soon as possible, in addition to other therapies appropriate for the patient.
- Check patient progress frequently. Reassess antibiotic therapy in 24 to 48 hours to stop or adjust therapy if needed. Be sure antibiotic type, dose, and duration are correct.