September 14, 2020

Florida’s Hospitals and Physicians Encourage Sepsis Awareness

Tallahassee - The Florida Hospital Association and the Florida Medical Association are working together to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis to reduce the number of cases and deaths. Governor Ron DeSantis has proclaimed September Sepsis Awareness Month to increase awareness of the illness and the need for rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Sepsis is the body's toxic reaction to an infection. It can be caused by an infection of any kind - viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. It can start with something as small as a paper cut or a more severe infection, such as pneumonia or meningitis.

Sepsis affects 1.7 million people each year and kills 270,000, with young children and the elderly experiencing the greatest number of sepsis-related deaths.

"Sepsis is the number one cost of hospitalization and the number one cause of hospital readmissions in the U.S.," said Crystal Stickle, interim president, Florida Hospital Association. "But the good news is that rapid diagnosis and treatment can save lives and improve outcomes for sepsis survivors. Everyone who works in a hospital should recognize the signs and symptoms of this potentially deadly illness."

"Sepsis is a medical emergency," said Tim Stapleton, chief executive officer, Florida Medical Association. "Unfortunately, too often the signs and symptoms are missed, and valuable time to intervene is lost. With greater awareness of how common this illness is and what to look for, we can save lives."

Sepsis survivors have a higher risk of contracting new infections, including COVID-19, within a few months of recovery. In addition, because the most common cause of sepsis is pneumonia or lung infections, having severe COVID-19 can be a contributing factor to sepsis.

The symptoms of sepsis are:

  • Temperature: higher or lower than normal
  • Infection: may have signs and symptoms of an infection
  • Mental decline: confused, sleepy, or difficult to rouse
  • Extremely ill: severe pain, discomfort, shortness of breath

FHA and FMA encourage anyone with a combination of these symptoms, especially if there is a recent history of a cut, surgery, invasive procedure, or infection to call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room and ask about the possibility of sepsis.

About Florida Hospital Association
Founded in 1927, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) is the voice of Florida's hospital community. Through representation and advocacy, education and informational services, we support the mission of our members to provide the highest quality of care to the patients we serve. Headquartered in Orlando, FHA has a regional office in Tallahassee and representation in Washington, D.C. The organization is governed by a Board of Trustees and officers elected by the member institutions. Visit fha.org for more.