Declaring September 13 to be Massachusetts Sepsis Awareness Day, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders announced the launch of a statewide consortium working to improve awareness and treatment of sepsis, a condition that killed roughly 6,500 people in the state in 2015.1
Sudders called it “an important day for patient safety,” while expressing confidence that the Massachusetts Sepsis Consortium, which includes nearly 30 health care and advocacy organizations, will make significant progress in stemming the devastating effects of sepsis. She spoke at an event at the State House attended by members of the Consortium, legislators, and sepsis survivors and their families, timed to coincide with World Sepsis Day.
Sepsis, which is estimated to cause 270,000 deaths in the Unites States annually,2 is a fast-moving, overwhelming systemic response to infection, which can lead to severe tissue damage, organ failure and death. Patients who survive sepsis can be left with physical and mental disabilities, as well as the emotional effects of undergoing a serious medical crisis and lengthy treatment.
Early detection and response improve outcomes, but sepsis can be difficult to predict, diagnose and treat. As sepsis develops, the symptoms, which may include rapid breathing, elevated heart rate, mottled or pale skin tone, intense pain, fever, low blood pressure and confusion, may be mistaken for other, more benign conditions. Even when patients and family members sense and report that they feel a medical crisis is developing, clinicians may not respond quickly enough to apply life-saving treatment successfully.