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A Back to Basics Approach to Prevent Infection

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

Guest Author: Orlaith Staunton 

Co-Founder Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention

A Back to Basics Approach to Prevent Infection

It was hard to see it happen. We were watching a friend’s basketball game when the young boy fell down and began to bleed from a cut on his arm. The referee sent him out of the game and over to his coach who took out a bandage and slapped it on the wound without cleaning the cut. Calling a time-out, the coach put the boy back in the game.

My daughter and I looked at each other in disbelief.  My son, her brother, Rory, had fallen playing basketball in 2012. The gym teacher had applied a bandage without cleaning the wound. Despite us bringing him to his pediatrician and hospital when he began to feel ill, Rory died from septic shock four days later. The source of the infection that ravaged his body is believed to be from the scrape on his arm.

At the Foundation we set up in his name, the Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention (www.rorystauntonfoundationforsepsis.org), we believe in the importance of a ‘back to basics’ approach to preventing infection (including the critical importance of the simple act of washing hands), understanding the risks and signs of sepsis, and taking responsibility for educating others about infection and sepsis by devising public health awareness campaigns.

In September 2017 the Foundation, in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and at the request of New York State’s Departments of Health and Education, produced the nation’s first comprehensive K-12 sepsis education curriculum. Every school in the state has access to the curriculum; its lessons are designed to educate students about the importance of a ‘back to basics’ approach to preventing infection. Starting in kindergarten, the lessons progressively educate young people about wound care, hand washing and the signs and science of sepsis and infection and show students how to become public health advocated in their communities. In November 2017, Governor Cuomo signed Rory Staunton’s Law, requiring all New York schools to receive sepsis education resources, free of charge.

We believe in the need for back to basics health care in our community. We know that the simplest acts–washing hands, and cleaning even minor wounds–will prevent infection. Our goal is to ensure that every child grows up to understand the importance of these fundamental healthcare principles.

For more information, visit www.rorystauntonfoundationforsepsis.org.

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

2 comments on “A Back to Basics Approach to Prevent Infection”

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    Hi Beverly, thanks so much for sharing your experience. We are so glad to hear you are doing well. Sepsis is indeed life-threatening, which is why timely treatment is so important. Unfortunately, it is not possible to know how many deaths are from undiagnosed cases, as there is no confirmatory sepsis diagnostic test. However, healthcare professionals can now begin to identify patients at risk for sepsis through evidence of infection and organ dysfunction and start to track those patients. We hope to have more specific data in the future. We hope that helps.

    I survived three bouts of sepsis but mine were caused by bacterial pneumonia. Thank you for educating the public as sepsis is deadly in more than 50 percent of the diagnosed cases. How many deaths are from undiagnosed cases?

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