On June 29, 2017, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published an article detailing the Global Sepsis Alliance’s (GSA) perspective on the World Health Organization (WHO) resolution on improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of sepsis.
The term “sepsis” dates to at least the time of Hippocrates, who considered it the process by which flesh rots and wounds fester. More recently defined as a life-threatening organ dysfunction resulting from infection, and is currently estimated to affect 30 million people and cause 6 million deaths per year, although the true burden is difficult to quantify.
Approximately 70% of sepsis cases are community-acquired, and since treatment with appropriate antibiotics must begin early to be effective, educating people about seeking treatment without delay is key to preventing unnecessary deaths and disability. The progression from infection to sepsis can be insidious and is unpredictable and can affect anyone at any time.
Sepsis suffers from a lack of awareness by the public, political leaders and those working in the healthcare system. Ensuring greater awareness is therefore a crucial step in reducing the global burden and mortality. In addition to national awareness programs for the public, targeted educational interventions should also teach healthcare workers to recognize sepsis and to understand its time-critical medical emergency.
Simply asking, “Could this be sepsis?” could save countless lives.
Progress toward the GSA’s vision of “a world free of sepsis” also requires recognition of the key role of prevention. Increased awareness, early presentation to a healthcare facility or early recognition of healthcare–associated sepsis, rapid administration of appropriate antibiotics, and urgent treatment according to locally developed guidelines can significantly reduce deaths from sepsis.
With hospital-acquired infections (HAI) accounting for up to 50% of sepsis cases, the prevention of HAI is also crucial in reducing the prevalence of sepsis. The resolution by the WHO has the potential to save millions of lives, but it is important to note that the actions proposed in the resolution need to be taken.
The Global Sepsis Alliance is a non-profit charity organization with the aim of raising awareness of sepsis worldwide and reducing sepsis deaths by 20 % by 2020. One of the ways in which the GSA aims to raise awareness is by organizing World Sepsis Day every year on September 13, of which Bactiguard is a sponsor.
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