Healthcare News & Insights

CDC: What hospitals must do to fight sepsis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants hospitals and healthcare providers to do more to save patients from a deadly condition: sepsis. Facilities need to protect patients who may be at risk of contracting the condition, as well as act quickly when a patient shows signs of the illness. 

In a new Vital Signs report86529245, the CDC says healthcare providers play an important role in helping reduce sepsis rates. About seven in 10 patients who contract sepsis either recently used healthcare services, or had a chronic disease that required regular health care.

That means providers have a unique opportunity to recognize and treat sepsis before the condition has serious negative effects on a patient’s health.

Education & treatment

With that in mind, it’s crucial that your clinical staff is on the lookout for the risk factors of sepsis. And since 80% of sepsis cases begin outside the hospital, per CDC statistics, it’s also important for staff to pass on information to patients about any warning signs.

People older than 65, or younger than 1 year, are more likely to develop sepsis than those in other age groups. Usually these patients have weakened immune systems, or chronic medical conditions like diabetes.

Patients who were recently admitted to the hospital with lung, skin, gut or urinary tract infections have a higher chance of developing sepsis than people with other conditions and ailments. Infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and Streptococcus are common causes of sepsis.

Sometimes, sepsis can be hard to detect because its symptoms mimic those of other illnesses. Signs and symptoms of sepsis include:

  • extreme pain or discomfort
  • clammy or sweaty skin
  • confusion or disorientation
  • shivering, fever or very cold
  • high heart rate, and
  • shortness of breath.

Importance of early detection

Patients who show signs of sepsis need to visit a hospital ASAP for evaluation and treatment. Providers must act quickly to figure out whether an infection is present and, if so, what caused it to happen.

Since time is of the essence with sepsis, medical care must start immediately, and patients should be quickly put on antibiotics. Staff must regularly monitor patients, checking their progress and assessing the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy.

Clinical staff need to make patients aware of these symptoms, and staff also need to give them details about sepsis prevention. The best strategy for patients to protect themselves from developing sepsis is to monitor their chronic illnesses closely, taking all necessary medications, and practice infection prevention measures such as proper hand hygiene.

Additionally, all clinical staff members need to understand the importance of early detection to saving patients’ lives if they contract sepsis. Because the condition worsens so quickly, it’s key for staff to quickly determine a plan of care so patients can recover with no ill effects. And preventive measures – particularly infection control – are also critical for hospitals.

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