Everyone Has a Role in Sepsis PreventionPosted on by
Author: Denise Cardo, MD
Director of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion,
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s overwhelming response to an infection – It is a medical emergency. Time matters!
CDC’s Vital Signs report, Think sepsis. Time matters, shows that sepsis often manifests outside the hospital and several patients who developed sepsis received frequent medical care to manage a chronic condition, or had recently used healthcare services for other reasons. Thus, we know opportunities exist for more infections to be prevented and for timely recognition and response to sepsis.
The report also highlights the importance of healthcare providers, patients and their families to improve patient outcomes and save lives. Healthcare providers are critical to preventing infections that may lead to sepsis. Key actions include promoting prevention strategies to their patients (e.g. hand hygiene and vaccinations), as well as following infection control practices in healthcare settings with every patient encounter. In addition, prompt recognition of the possibility of sepsis and swift action are essential so more lives are saved.
Family members and patients have a vital role in sepsis prevention. However, too many Americans have not heard about sepsis and are not aware that it is necessary to act fast when an infection does not get better. CDC is calling on healthcare providers to take action by informing patients and families about infection prevention, recognizing when an infection is getting worse, and knowing when to seek care. Educating and engaging patients and family members is an essential part of sepsis prevention.
Many hospitals are implementing programs for early sepsis recognition and management. To achieve the best patient outcomes, these programs need to work with existing healthcare-associated infection prevention programs and antibiotic stewardship programs.
Far too many people are dying as a result of infections that are not prevented and because sepsis is not being recognized and managed promptly. As a country, we need to do more to protect patients and save lives. All of us have a role to play and I count on your commitment to do what is needed to enact real change.