September is Sepsis Awareness Month: an opportunity for WSHA and our hospital members to work together to raise awareness of this condition that is the leading cause of death among patients in American hospitals. Outside of the health care community, sepsis is hardly a household name, as 35 percent of Americans haven’t even heard of it. We invite you to help us change that.
Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to severe infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Sepsis can impact anyone, the sick and the health alike, and people of all ages. However, some groups – including young children, older adults and those with a weakened immune system – are more likely to suffer from sepsis. Like with a stroke, access to timely care can be the difference between life and death, with the risk of death by sepsis increasing by 4-8 percent every hour without proper care. Sadly, 80 percent of all sepsis deaths are preventable.
The Sepsis Alliance has created a toolkit that you can use to help raise awareness by writing and posting about sepsis on social media and in your hospital newsletters. This includes both graphics and written copy you can use, making it fast and easy to join in. This month of awareness is a massive effort, and the Sepsis Alliance hopes to reach health care organizations in all 50 states to raise awareness. We are also delighted that Gov. Inslee has proclaimed for the fourth year in a row September as Sepsis Awareness Month!
We also invite you to talk to your friends and family about sepsis. The signs of sepsis correlate to the acronym “TIME,” which stands for “temperature” (abnormally high or low body temperature), “infection” (signs and symptoms of an infection), “mental decline” (confusion or sleepiness) and “extreme illness” (severe pain, discomfort and shortness of breath). If you or someone you know experience these symptoms, it’s critical to seek immediate medical care.
Please contact me directly if you have any questions about sepsis or WSHA or our member hospitals’ work on sepsis, and I would be happy to help you!
WSHA Director, Safety & Quality