McKnight’s had a great article on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent report on sepsis in Vital Signs.  Sepsis is a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Sepsis is a medical emergency.

Many clinicians are missing the signs of sepsis according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In a Vital Signs report published, the CDC found that 7 out of 10 people with sepsis had either recently used healthcare services or had chronic diseases that required frequent medical care. Nearly 80% of patients develop sepsis outside of the hospital setting.

Those statistics mean healthcare providers play a “critical role” in recognizing sepsis early on, and protecting people from infections that can lead to the condition, the CDC said. That role is even bigger for long-term care providers, since adults age 65 years and older and those with chronic medical conditions are more likely to get sepsis.

When sepsis occurs, it should be treated as a medical emergency,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. He urged families, doctors and nurses to watch and ask “could this be sepsis?”

The CDC urged providers to follow infection control requirements, educate patients and families about sepsis, act fast if symptoms are identified and know the signs and symptoms.

Healthcare providers can

  • Prevent infections. Follow infection control requirements (e.g., hand hygiene) and ensure patients receive recommended vaccines (e.g., flu and pneumococcal).
  • Educate patients and their families. Stress the need to prevent infections, manage chronic conditions, and seek care if signs of severe infection or sepsis are present.
  • Think sepsis. Know sepsis signs and symptoms to identify and treat patients early.
  • Act fast. If sepsis is suspected, order tests to determine if an infection is present, where it is, and what caused it. Start antibiotics and other medical care immediately. Document antibiotic dose, duration, and purpose.
  • Reassess patient management. Check patient progress frequently. Reassess antibiotic therapy 24-48 hours or sooner to change therapy as needed. Be sure the antibiotic type, dose, and duration are correct.

The agency is also taking steps to increase awareness of sepsis among clinical professionals, aligns infection prevention, chronic disease management and antibiotic use, and develop sepsis tracking programs to measure the impact of successful interventions.

 Graphic: Healthcare providers are key to preventing infections and illnesses that can lead to sepsis.

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