In a typical year, at least 1.7 million adults in the United States develop sepsis, and at least 350,000 die in the hospital or are transferred to a hospital, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On top of that, about one in three people who die in a hospital in the U.S. have sepsis at the time of admission, the agency says.
CDC data show that many U.S. hospitals lack the resources to diagnose and treat sepsis as early as possible.
On Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen announced the agency’s launch Key components of a hospital sepsis programA guide to supplement and support existing sepsis guidelines in US hospitals.
Sepsis is a serious reaction of the body to an infection. A life-threatening condition requires emergency medical care to prevent organ damage and death.
In some cases, sepsis or the infections that lead to it are not properly recognized because they can present with a variety of symptoms such as confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, high heart rate, fever, shivering or feeling very cold, and severe pain. or discomfort, and moist or sweaty skin, the CDC says.
“That’s why the CDC developed key components of the Hospital Sepsis Program, which puts providers in a better position to provide effective care to patients with sepsis,” Cohen said.
One of those patients was Alice Tapper, daughter of CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who was misdiagnosed with appendicitis in 2021 at age 14.
After going to the hospital with stomach cramps, fever, chills and vomiting, Alice was told she had a viral infection or gastroenteritis, despite her parents’ concerns about appendicitis.
A few days later, as her condition continued to deteriorate, Alice was diagnosed with appendicitis and rushed into surgery. But by then, her appendix had ruptured and she soon developed sepsis.
Alice said during Thursday’s CDC briefing that although she has made a full recovery, she is frustrated that she missed her diagnosis.
“Had the enteritis been taken seriously and the signs and symptoms of sepsis acknowledged, my care would not have been weeks in the hospital and long recovery at home,” he said.
More than 75,000 children to create Severe sepsis every year. But the CDC says the risk is higher for people age 65 and older, along with people with weakened immune systems.
“Stories like Alice’s remind us that even the most knowledgeable, committed, dedicated and experienced teams can be surprised by sepsis,” Dr. Chris Terienzo, senior vice president and chief physician executive of the American Hospital Association, said Thursday.
But many hospitals lack proper plans for rapid response to sepsis, according to a 2022 survey of 5,221 U.S. hospitals published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
In fact, only 73% identified having a sepsis team involved in monitoring and reviewing sepsis treatment and outcomes. These groups were less common in smaller hospitals with less than 25 beds.
In a survey that evaluated the prevalence and characteristics of sepsis programs in acute care hospitals, only 55% of US hospitals allocated time to sepsis program leaders to manage the programs.
Meanwhile, 55% of sepsis committees reported involvement in antibiotic stewardship programs that monitor and review antibiotic and antifungal use in sepsis care.
“The CDC is calling on all US hospitals to adopt a sepsis program and raise the bar for sepsis care,” Cohen said.
Hospitals across the country are being encouraged to implement key elements in their operations, but Emory University School of Medicine assistant professor of medicine Dr. Raymond Dantes told CNN that about 1,400 hospitals are starting from scratch because there aren’t any. There is a sepsis group.
The new core components document that CDC is providing to hospitals will include a “starter’s guide” to help them implement their own teams.
“For hospitals that already have sepsis programs and have available resources, we have a lot of details and best practices that we’ve gathered from hospitals about how to best improve your sepsis programs,” Dantes said.
Most adults with sepsis (87%) go to the hospital with an unresectable infection. But there are steps people can take to prevent sepsis and its consequences, the CDC says. The first is vaccination against viruses such as coronavirus, flu and RSV.
According to the CDC, bacterial infections cause sepsis in most cases, so infection can be prevented by cleaning scrapes and wounds and practicing good hygiene, such as regular bathing and hand washing.
Alice Tapper says everyone should keep sepsis in mind when they’re sick, because time is of the essence when the infection worsens.
“It’s more common than people think,” he said. “Recognizing the dangers of a ticking clock is how short the window is when you have sepsis, and how bad it can get and how quickly it can get worse.”
Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly shared information about hospital plans to respond to sepsis. It should have cited the CDC MMWR.