Sepsis Awareness: What You Should Know

Many are unaware of this serious condition that can result in fatal complications.

By Dr. David Newby
Emergency Medicine Physician

Sepsis takes the lives of over 18 children each day in the U.S. yet many Americans are unaware of this serious condition that can result in fatal complications.

Sepsis Alliance’s annual sepsis awareness survey reveals awareness of sepsis reached a new high with 65 percent of U.S. adults reporting they have heard the term sepsis, compared to 44 percent four years ago.

Unfortunately, the survey results also show that sepsis symptoms are not well known, with only 12 percent of those surveyed knowing the symptoms of sepsis. And there is a lack of urgency in seeking medical attention, despite sepsis taking more than 270,000 lives a year in the U.S.

Mortality from sepsis, the body’s life-threatening reaction to an infection, increases by as much as eight percent for every hour that treatment is delayed. As many as 80 percent of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Yet while three out of four people strongly agree it is important to respond urgently to signs of a stroke, only half would do the same for signs of sepsis – despite it being twice as common and deadly as stroke.

To remedy this situation, the Sepsis Alliance is rolling out “It’s About TIME.” In a similar vein as the stroke awareness acronym “FAST,” ”It’s about TIME” is intended to spread awareness of sepsis symptoms:

  • T = Temperature – higher or lower than normal
  • I = Infection – may have signs and symptoms of infection
  • M = Mental decline – confused, sleepy, difficult to arouse.
  • E = Extremely ill – “I feel like I might die”; severe pain or discomfort

At The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio’s Emergency Departments we have adopted a Sepsis Screening Protocol to help identify patients at increased risk for sepsis based on vital signs and other parameters during the triage process. When a Sepsis Alert is triggered, a multidisciplinary “huddle” is convened to quickly decide what measures will be taken based on national sepsis guidelines.

Both locally and nationally, we are taking action to reduce the morbidity and mortality of the under recognized problem of sepsis. Acting quickly could save your child’s life. Learn more about sepsis by visiting

If you suspect your child has any of the symptoms of sepsis, it’s important to get help fast. We have three emergency centers in San Antonio designed especially for children from newborns through age 17 Our highly trained and experienced physicians and nurses are ready to care for your child in any emergency. Find a location near you.