Sepsis is Life Changing for All Involved

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog
Carl Flatey, Founder of Sepsis Alliance
Carl Flatley, Founder of Sepsis Alliance

Guest Author: Carl Flatley DDS MSD
Founder / Board Member of Sepsis Alliance
Pres. of the Erin Kay Flatley Memorial Foundation

“I believe sepsis is the #1 unmet medical need in the USA, as well as globally. Some research estimates that  sepsis is the #3 cause of death in the US and the #1 cause of death in children under the age of five in the world.  When sepsis is not quickly recognized and treated, it can lead to permanent disability, such as loss of limbs, and death. The numbers of those lost and disabled by sepsis are staggering and the emotional toll of lost loved ones’ family and friends is immeasurable.

I have experienced the unbearable emotional toll of sepsis first hand. I lost my daughter, Erin Flatley, to sepsis when she was only 23-years-old. The pain and anger of losing her is real and constant.

In 2007, I founded Sepsis Alliance, the largest sepsis consumer advocacy group in the country, to raise awareness of sepsis among everyone as a medical emergency so we can protect patients and their loved ones from the devastating effects of sepsis. I have voiced my concerns about sepsis to Congress, state legislators, and governmental agencies. We need everyone – patients, families, healthcare providers, governmental agencies, and advocacy groups – to join together to fight this condition.

In honor of my daughter, the Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award is being launched this year to recognize outstanding dedication, sacrifice and contribution to improving the care and lives of patients with sepsis. Erin was a passionate young woman who wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Her desire to give back to society inspired this award.

I’m proud that this year’s recipient is Audrey Leishman and the Begin Again Foundation, which provides financial support to families struggling from their loss or disability from sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or toxic shock syndrome (TSS). The Foundation’s work and compassion is truly life-changing to those who have been affected by sepsis.

I wish I would have known when sepsis is quickly recognized, lives can be saved. Learn the signs and symptoms of sepsis and seek medical care for an infection that’s not getting better or if it’s getting worse. If you suspect sepsis, don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider, “Could it be sepsis?” It could save your life or your loved ones’ life.

– Erins’ dad

Carl J. Flatley, a retired endodontist, founded Sepsis Alliance in 2007 after losing his daughter Erin to sepsis, something he had never heard of. He is also a member on the Sepsis Alliance board of directors, chair of the Erin K Flatley Memorial Foundation, and is the creator of the “vitalswatch” app.

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

5 comments on “Sepsis is Life Changing for All Involved”

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    Thank you, Erin’s Dad, for your immense efforts in educating families about sepsis. I’ve seen it occur firsthand; it is so fast acting and deadly. I’m so sorry for your very personal loss of your daughter Erin. I cannot imagine this, nor can I wrap my head around the strength you have to push forward for good in the midst of feeling . . . so bad. You are saving untold lives by proactive health education. I have sent your link for quickly recognizing and treating sepsis. Again, many thanks. I am certain your daughter is beaming proud of her Dad!

    Marla in Ohio

    Dr, Flatley,

    Thank you so much for founding the Sepsis Alliance, which I had not heard of until reading your post. As the daughter of a man who nearly lost his life from sepsis(a very rare Strep Group, only seen once or twice in an infectious disease specialist’s practice over a lifetime and again at the end of his life, leaving him with severe C diff for the last 6 months of his life), and a brother who has been hospitalized multiple times for sepsis secondary to diabetic foot/leg infections, I very much appreciate your efforts.

    I have been downloading the posters and information disseminated by CDC for healthcare workers this month and sharing with staff at my brother’s nursing home. I have also downloaded information for him, in hopes that he would be more vigilant of the sometimes subtle changes which appear prior to full blown spites in temp, etc. In his case we are more fortunate since the fact of his history raises the possibility quite early on (although he was misdiagnosed this summer with heat stroke).

    And please accept my heartfelt condolences on the death of your daughter, whose memory you are keeping alive in such a beautiful way. You inspired me to review the Sepsis Alliance website, make a donation in my father’s memory, and to review the contents. I will share this information with other healthcare workers in my field of occupational health. Thank you, again.

    I want to share my husband’s experience with MRSA. His Dr. did not acknowledge he had it, the dermatologist did not acknowledge it! He had oozing sores on his body! When we finally confronted his Dr face to face did he admit it! We immediately changed to another Dr and hospital! I was given the nose swab and I have it too! MRSA has killed as many as Sepsis but no one will admit it! Sorry about your loss, but many more deaths could have been prevented too.

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Page last reviewed: October 26, 2016
Page last updated: October 26, 2016