Sepsis Awareness Month: Why Sepsis Awareness Is More Important Than Ever

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

Denise Cardo, MD,
Former Director, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo of Dr. Denise Cardo
Dr. Denise Cardo

In these unprecedented times, Sepsis Awareness Month is a moment for us to reflect on and recommit to focusing on the needs of the patient. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection, and without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. During this challenging time we are facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to reflect on the connections with sepsis. It is known that a patient with COVID-19 infection can have sepsis as a complication. But it is also important to highlight that because of the disruption of the healthcare system, it is possible that patients with sepsis have avoided seeking timely care due to fear of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has also uncovered valuable opportunities to improve the quality of care and patient safety that will help us even after the pandemic ends: from improving patient education, addressing racial and ethnic health disparities, and improving diagnostic testing and infection control.

We are also reminded of the critical need to protect patients throughout their health journey—before a patient gets to the hospital, when they are receiving care, and in the time period after they receive care when follow up may be needed. We know that around 80 percent of adult patients with sepsis started having signs and symptoms prior to being hospitalized and many sepsis survivors continue with devastating complications after being discharged. Focusing on the needs of the patient at every healthcare encounter and developing innovative strategies and tools for timely diagnoses and adequate management of sepsis tailored to each healthcare setting are critical needs that must addressed. In addition, we need to promote aggressive initiatives to educate healthcare professionals and patients about the importance of infection prevention, as well as early sepsis detection and management integrated with existing and new strategies for care delivery, such as telemedicine.

Finally, the COVID-19 response has shown that transparency and accountability with clear goals and better connections between public health and healthcare professionals focusing on infection prevention and addressing patient needs are critical to improve healthcare for all people in the United States. It is a challenging time, but also an opportunity to address racial and ethnic health disparities and gaps in our healthcare delivery system that are not only critical for COVID-19, but also important factors for addressing sepsis in the United States.

Sepsis remains a priority for CDC and across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We continue to work closely with our colleagues from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Division of Research Innovation and Ventures (DRIVe) Solving Sepsis, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and others to identify and develop innovative ways to prevent, recognize, and treat sepsis.

Please join me and my colleagues at CDC and HHS to make a difference. Now is the time to act. We all have a role to play, and we must work together—across healthcare, government, research, public health, and more—to protect patients. This year and always, we want to thank our valued partners for helping us to improve and expand our efforts to reach patients, family members, and healthcare professionals across the country who need these resources the most. Thank you for your partnership, your commitment to patient safety, and your tireless efforts to save lives. To the families and friends who have lost loved ones to sepsis: it is impossible to quantify the impact of each life lost to this life-threatening condition and its long-lasting effects. Thank you for being a constant reminder of the importance of and the reason for our work. You continue to inspire and motivate me.

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30 comments on “Sepsis Awareness Month: Why Sepsis Awareness Is More Important Than Ever”

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    I went septic August 20,2016 went into the hospital and thank god for my nurse and ER Dr. David Berger they saw my temp was high and kidneys were failing ,I was going in and out , mostly out, when I’d come too ,I had a team of Drs around me, they saved my life, I was told I had only a couple hours to live, it was physically, emotionally, and mentally a rough journey.

    It is very pass to work on and think about sepsis but it would be good to think about its predisposing and causes in order to tackle the issue seriously.
    Currently, I am working in Ethiopian Diabetes Association. Since we are working with majority of government and private health facilities and health professionals the issue is significant for us. So if there is room to work together we are happy.

    I had sepsis August of 2019 from a stone blocking my left ureter, I almost lost my life & am still am having kidney & bladder. I am very weak & have a difficult time doing everyday chores. Now the kidney issues are causing fluid to collect around my heart. I am very tired all the time & just not myself. I have always had a very high energy level & an independent overachiever however that ended abruptly on 8/10/2019 & continues until today. The information I have gathered is frightening even till today. Praying for a miracle. So tired of surgeries & medications.

    My 14 month old just recovered from sepsis. Thanks to the fast-acting. smart and attentive nurses and physicians that noted a minor change in symptoms. She has a central line and this was our first time having a real infection. Things ended up okay and we are grateful.

    Thank you for the timely, authoritative article on the potentially fatal condition of sepsis, Dr. Cardo! As you point-out, harm from sepsis is preventable, so we must measure, recognize, and document the risk of sepsis for every susceptible patient and treat them accordingly while closely monitoring for deterioration. Sepsis is an excellent example of how prevention and protection are the best strategies for advancing patient safety.

    Interesting that Neutrophil Extracellular Traps might be a common link between Sepsis and COVID-19!

    Last year I was visiting with friends out of state when sepsis hit. I had no pain. No symptoms other than fatigue, which I contributed to the 9 hour car ride. I laid down for a nap and that’s the last thing I remember. They took me to an urgent care who could not help me… my body was crashing. That doctor ordered an ambulance that took me two miles up the road to the Community hospital. By that time I had went into respiratory failure and my vitals where critically poor. I was unresponsive and in septic shock. It took many hours to determine the source of my infection, as my body continued deteriorating. Once the source was discovered and a procedure worked to alleviate the problem it was decided to airlift me to a sister-hospital in a major city. Even in ICU I had organ failures and A-Fib. It’s been 15 months and my body will never be the same. Instead of a 4-day trip, I spent 30 days out-of-state. But, I’m very thankful to be here. Very thankful that I was not home alone… I might never have woken up. Stay safe, everyone.

    3 years ago this coming Christmas I got pneumonia. I was hospitalized. When I woke up the morning after I was admitted to the hospital, the doctor was already sitting by my bed looking at me. My fever reached 104 during the night and he said I also had sepsis. That really didnt mean anything to me because I didnt and still dont know what it exactly is except its an infection. I guess they tried hard to get my temp down but I fought them. I dont have any memory of the events. All I know is that I knew I was sick with pneumonia for the first time and my son took me to the hospital. Usually I just feel tired and the doctor tells me I have it and admits me. But never had sepsis before.

    You should have at minimum included a definition & symptoms of Sepsis..even if only to DO what you SAY here is important!

    My husband suffered sepsis on August 23, 2020. He is 88 years old. It started with a small scrape or sore at the back of his left leg. Three days later his body started
    shaking. The next day his leg was red and shaking continued. So off to the hospital we
    went. There his temp was 105 and blood pressure was 82/44. He has an artificial
    aortic valve and a pacemaker. He was hospitalized for 4 days. Then when he came home he had HUGE blisters on the leg. Has been dealing with a Wound doctor and infectious
    disease doctor. Today is Sept 11 and his leg is not healing as well as the doctor thought
    it would. He’s been on an antibiotic infusion since he came home from the hospital 8/27.

    Thank you so much for continuing to recognize the devastating effects of Sepsis. I have had three separate Sepsis infections this year and I am happy to report that I am a survivor. We must do more to alert and educate communities of color about this killer. I thought I lived in a clean, sterile environment. I didn’t. I thought I practiced good hygiene. It wasn’t good enough. You need to bring more attention to this disease.

    To limit the negative impact of sepsis, he considered it essential to orient the strategies in several points: 1) educate the open population about the key data of the presence of an infection and go promptly to a health professional, 2) train to first contact physicians about the correct diagnostic criteria and the optimization of antimicrobial use, 3) education to specialists about the differences in antimicrobial regimens based on the gold standard of infectious diagnosis and the therapeutic decision based on the levels of evidence and 4) educate clinicians on the differences between: colonization, contamination, prophylaxis, anticipatory therapy, empirical therapy, specific therapy, and preventable resistance therapy, and what antimicrobial regimen corresponds to each type of therapy.

    Ty and I are grateful for the refreshed focus on educating the public and clinicians on the urgent need to act quickly to prevent the serious affects of sepsis. The CDC’s focus and ongoing efforts to work with partners like The Sepsis Alliance illustrates the CDC’s commitment to save lives and prevent unnecessary harm. Nile’s Project is proud to support these efforts as we honor Nile Calvin Moss and the many thousands of people who’s lives ended unnecessarily do to lack of appropriate action from trusted healthcare professionals. More than ever COVID -19 has given us all a view into the gaps in areas we need to improve and the need for Sepsis education is even more urgent. Sepsis in the time of COVID-19 is real and living with Sepsis after COVID-19 will affect many.
    Your work is lifesaving and we thank you for ongoing commitment.
    Thank You
    Ty and Carole Moss

    Thank you for reminding us about the importance of this life threatening condition of Sepsis.
    I had a friend that had this and if we had not brought him to the hospital he would have died.

    Just over a year ago, I had cardiothoracic quadruple bypass surgery. During my recovery, from said surgery, I developed both pneumococal pneumonia and sepsis as complications. How would I know if I had residual organ damage from the sepsis? Additionally, how would I be able to recognize any symptoms of any residual sepsis, if any?

    I had sepsis 18 years ago and I’ve never been the same. I had something put in me called internet during a laperoscomy and it was contaminated where it was made. I’ve had cancers and p.e and so much unexplained health issues. I cant find anyone to truly help me. I am needed. I raise my grandson and I’m at a loss still fighting for my life everyday it feels. I’m 66. I need to live and I have pain and sickness always. But I canr show it because of my grandson and my youngest daughter. I don’t want them to be scared. Sepsis has destroyed me I truly believe. Thank you for helping people.

    Dr. Cardo I am a ICD 10 CM /PCS Coding Instructor. My class is learning about Sepsis what can I give them on COVID -19 and Sepsis. This is a new and trending disease. I want to prepare my students for the future.

    Thank you for your valuable information.



    A medical assessment is needed to confirm sepsis. Sepsis is an acute illness, and patients with sepsis have current symptoms, so it’s not likely you currently have sepsis. Only by clinical assessment can it be determined whether or not the described events are a result of sepsis. For additional information on sepsis, including how to reduce the risk of infections that can lead to sepsis in persons at higher risk, please visit the CDC sepsis website:

    Sepsis Very Important


    Make a CHART

    Please define sepsis
    How to identify symptoms
    When to Seek treatment


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Page last reviewed: November 28, 2023
Page last updated: November 28, 2023