September is Sepsis Awareness Month

Sepsis is the #1 Cause for Hospital Readmission

Sepsis is the Number 1 cause for readmissions to hospitals in the United States –  costing more than $2 billion each year, according to the JAMA Network. And only 55 percent of U.S. adults have heard of sepsis. September is Sepsis Awareness Month and Jefferson Community Health & Life wants everyone to understand the seriousness of this medical emergency. Sepsis kills more people yearly than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined.

So what exactly is sepsis? Sepsis is defined as the body’s overwhelming and life threatening response to an infection. When infection gets out of control in the body it can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Any infection, anywhere in your body, can cause sepsis.

While sepsis is more likely to affect very young children, older adults, people with chronic diseases, and those with a weakened immune system, sepsis is an equal-opportunity killer impacting people of all ages and levels of health. Sepsis is a medical emergency and requires urgent attention and rapid treatment for survival.

Symptoms of sepsis can include the following:

  • Fever or feeling chilled,
  • Confusion/sleepiness,
  • Fast heart rate,
  • Fast breathing or shortness of breath,
  • Extreme pain, and/or
  • Pale or discolored skin.

The goal is to recognize and treat sepsis early. As many as 92% of sepsis cases originate outside of a healthcare setting, so it is important for everyone to be aware of signs and symptoms. Call your doctor immediately if you suspect or have concerns about sepsis. Lab work, vital signs and assessment of the patient will help the medical team to identify if a patient has sepsis.

What can you do to prevent sepsis? Get vaccinated against flu, pneumonia, and any other infections that could lead to sepsis. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations which might be beneficial for your health. Prevent infections that can lead to sepsis by cleaning any scrapes and wounds, and practicing good hygiene/hand washing. Lastly, know that time matters. Watch for symptoms and notify your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms.

September is Sepsis Awareness Month. For more information on sepsis, visit https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/index.html.