Sepsis Awareness Month

Infection is a common health concern with the potential to transform from a minor inconvenience to a life-threatening health crisis called sepsis.  Built to fight infection, the body’s overwhelming response may cause sepsis and lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

September is Sepsis Awareness Month, and the Sepsis Alliance offers a Healthcare Provider and Community Leader Toolkit to encourage others to take TIME to save lives.

“As a nurse who has worked in multiple settings, I have seen patients deteriorate very quickly as sepsis progressed to septic shock,” shared Krystal Hays, DNP, RN, RAC-CT, regional project manager for the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN). “Early recognition is critical, not only upon arrival to the hospital, but when the patient is first showing signs and symptoms in the community.”

These early signs and symptoms can be remembered and identified using the TIME acronym: Temperature, Infection, Mental decline, Extremely ill.

A July 2021 H-CUP Statistical Brief #277 identified septicemia as the top diagnosis in rural, urban, and metropolitan locations. The most common principal diagnosis, the cost per stay averages $18,700 combining to a staggering $41.6 billion cost for inpatient stays in American hospitals.

Hays continued, “With sepsis as the number one reason for inpatient hospitalization, there is a great opportunity to improve the early recognition and treatment of sepsis. Raising awareness and encouraging community members to tell healthcare providers ‘I suspect sepsis’ will result in faster recognition and treatment of sepsis to avoid disability and mortality.”

From a hangnail to pneumonia and from the very young to the very old, sepsis can strike unexpectedly and presents a real risk for any age. Sepsis 911 tells an inspirational story of Sue Stull, a sepsis survivor and quadruple amputee. She was healthy and active until her life changed due to sepsis.

On the positive side, preventing sepsis can be as simple as strong hygiene practices and timely immunizations. Strong recommendations from healthcare professionals for COVID-19, influenza, pneumococcal, and shingles vaccinations can prevent dangerous infections and reduce sepsis diagnoses.

“Early recognition and treatment of sepsis is just as important as recognizing someone experiencing the signs of a heart attack or stroke,” Hays emphasized.

Sepsis takes a life every two minutes.  This September take T.I.M.E. to save lives.