Many cases of life-threatening sepsis could be recognized and treated long before they cause severe illness or death, according to an Aug. 23 Vital Signs report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers from the CDC found that about 70 percent of patients with sepsis had used health care services recently or had chronic diseases that required regular medical care.
Health care providers play a critical role in preventing sepsis, which includes following infection control measures such as hand washing and by ensuring patients get recommended vaccines, the CDC said. It’s also essential to educate patients and their families about the need to prevent infections, manage chronic health conditions, and seek immediate medical care if an infection doesn’t improve.
The CDC had additional advice for health care providers: Know the signs and symptoms of sepsis. If sepsis is suspected, order tests to determine if an infection is present, where it is, and what caused it. Start antibiotics and other recommended medical care immediately. Also, monitor patients closely and reassess antibiotic treatment within 24 to 48 hours or sooner to determine whether the type of antibiotics, dose, and duration are correct, or need to be changed.
Health care providers play a critical role in protecting patients from infections that can lead to sepsis and recognizing sepsis early. Health care providers can:
- Prevent infections. Follow infection control requirements (such as handwashing) and ensure patients to get recommended vaccines (e.g., flu and pneumococcal).
- Educate patients and their families. Stress the need to prevent infections, manage chronic conditions, and, if an infection is not improving, promptly seek care. Don’t delay.
- Think sepsis. Know the signs and symptoms to identify and treat patients earlier.
- Act fast. If sepsis is suspected, order tests to help determine if an infection is present, where it is, and what caused it. Start antibiotics and other recommended medical care immediately.
- Reassess patient management. Check patient progress frequently. Reassess antibiotic therapy 24-48 hours or sooner to change therapy as needed. Determine whether the type of antibiotics, dose, and duration are correct.
CDC is working on five key areas related to sepsis:
- Increasing sepsis awareness by engaging clinical professional organizations and patient advocates.
- Aligning infection prevention, chronic disease management, and appropriate antibiotic use to promote early recognition of sepsis.
- Studying risk factors for sepsis that can guide focused prevention and early recognition.
- Developing tracking for sepsis to measure impact of successful interventions.
- Preventing infections that may lead to sepsis by promoting vaccination programs, chronic disease management, infection prevention, and appropriate antibiotic use.
To read the entire Vital Signs report visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/sepsis.