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CDC encourages early intervention, preventive measures for sepsis

September 6, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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About 70 percent of patients with sepsis recently used healthcare services or had chronic diseases that required frequent medical care, according to a Vital Signs report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But sepsis, the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection, begins outside of the hospital for nearly 80 percent of patients. That’s an opportunity for improvement—and intervention for both hosptials and long-term care facilities.

“When sepsis occurs, it should be treated as a medical emergency,” said CDC Director Tom Friedan, MD, MPH, in a press release. “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?’”

Healthcare providers can prevent infections by following infection control requirements and ensure patients get recommended vaccines, educate patients and their families, recognizing signs and symptoms, order tests if sepsis is suspected and start antibiotics immediately and frequently check patient progress.

People with an infection are more susceptible to sepsis, including people age 65 and up, those with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions such as diabetes. The most common infections that lead to sepsis are:

  • lung, including pneumonia, 35 percent;
  • urinary tract, including kidney infection, 25 percent;
  • skin 11 percent; and
  • gut 11 percent.

In most cases, the germ that caused the infection leading to sepsis was not identified. When it was, the most common offenders were Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and some types of Streptococcus.

For its part, the CDC is working to promote early recognition of sepsis, study risk factors, establish benchmarks for measuring the success of interventions and encourage preventive measures.


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