We often hear of "silent killers" like heart disease, but sepsis is not a common topic for bus shelter ads and public service announcements. This seems odd when you consider that 215,000 Americans die from sepsis ever year -- that's one victim every 2.5 minutes. Or, when you realize that more children die from sepsis than cancer in this country.
Essentially, sepsis is an infection gone wild. Bacteria find their way into soft tissue or the blood stream and invade the body as a whole. If sepsis goes unnoticed, and medical treatment is delayed or improper, the results can be catastrophic. According to the Sepsis Alliance, two out of every five patients diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive.
As we mentioned in our July 13 post, there are several factors that, taken together, indicate sepsis. Generally, the presence of three of those is enough to trigger treatment with antibiotics. The challenge for hospitals is to diagnose sepsis more quickly and to administer antibiotics within an hour of the diagnosis.
A group of hospitals has responded with a STOP Sepsis program. (STOP stands for "Strengthening Treatment and Outcomes for Patients.") To reduce the mortality rate and to improve patient care, the program calls for patients that present with three of the eight symptoms to start on antibiotics as quickly as possible, within an hour at most.
A national group, the Sepsis Alliance is also making inroads into faster diagnosis and treatment for sepsis. The Alliance focuses on educating health care professionals, families and patients about sepsis through written materials and events -- and even Sepsis Awareness Month. In September, we may finally see PSAs and banner ads about early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.
Source: The New York Times, "An Infection, Unnoticed, Turns Unstoppable," Jim Dwyer, July 11, 2012