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Saving patients from sepsis is a race against time

Aug 23, 2016

CDC calls sepsis a medical emergency; encourages prompt action for prevention, early recognition
 
Sepsis is caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection and requires rapid intervention. It begins outside of the hospital for nearly 80 percent of patients. According to a new Vital Signs report released by CDC, about 7 in 10 patients with sepsis had used health care services recently or had chronic diseases that required frequent medical care. These represent opportunities for healthcare providers to prevent, recognize, and treat sepsis long before it can cause life-threatening illness or death.
 
"When sepsis occurs, it should be treated as a medical emergency," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Doctors and nurses can prevent sepsis and also the devastating effects of sepsis, and patients and families can watch for sepsis and ask, ‘could this be sepsis?’"   
 
Certain people with an infection are more likely to get sepsis, including people age 65 years or older, infants less than 1 year old, people who have weakened immune systems, and people who have chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes). While much less common, even healthy children and adults can develop sepsis from an infection, especially when not recognized early. The signs and symptoms of sepsis include: shivering, fever, or feeling very cold; extreme pain or discomfort; clammy or sweaty skin; confusion or disorientation; shortness of breath and a high heart rate.
 
According to the Vital Signs report, infections of the lung, urinary tract, skin, and gut most often led to sepsis. In most cases, the germ that caused the infection leading to sepsis was not identified. When identified, the most common germs leading to sepsis were Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and some types of Streptococcus.
 
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To read the entire Vital Signs report visit: www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/sepsis.
 
For more information on sepsis and CDC’s work visit: www.cdc.gov/sepsis.