Less than 1% of Americans can identify symptoms of sepsis, which is the leading cause of death in US hospitals.
September is Sepsis Awareness Month. It’s the leading cause of death in US hospitals, yet 4 out of 10 Americans have never heard of sepsis.
Since 2011, Sepsis Alliance has encouraged organizations, health care systems, and individuals to use this month to intentionally shine a spotlight on sepsis. Every year, sepsis kills more than a quarter million Americans. That’s more than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS — combined.
Tragically, many of those lives could have been spared with improved public awareness, according to Sepsis Alliance.
“For people to suspect sepsis and get treatment, they need to first understand what it is and how it manifests itself,” said Steven Simpson, MD, FCCP, FACP, chief medical officer for Sepsis Alliance.
Although sepsis awareness is improving (a recent survey of 2,000 adults found 58% had at least heard of sepsis; that’s up from just 19% a decade ago), there is still a significant knowledge gap about what sepsis is and how it presents.
That same survey also found:
- more Americans have heard of Ebola than sepsis (even though sepsis affects more than 1.6 million Americans a year and Ebola is practically nonexistent in the United States);
- 39% of Americans mistakenly think sepsis is contagious; and
- less than 1% can identify the most common sepsis symptoms.