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September is Sepsis Awareness Month!

Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to an infection. Sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death – and it happens rapidly.

Mortality related to sepsis increases 8 percent for every hour that treatment is delayed.

According to the CDC, sepsis occurs in over 1 million patients every year, kills 258,000 Americans a year, and leaves thousands of survivors with life-changing after-effects.

Learn How to Identify Sepsis

There is no one symptom of sepsis but a combination of symptoms.

Symptoms of sepsis include:

  • Shivering and fever
  • Extreme pain
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Sleepiness or being difficult to rouse
  • Pale or discolored skin
  • Shortness of breath

Recognizing these symptoms is particularly important in people who have recently been ill, had an infection, or have had an invasive procedure, such as an intravenous, a urinary catheter, or even a tattoo or piercing.

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Fighting Sepsis, Saving Lives

WakeMed has an interprofessional team continually working on improving care for our patients diagnosed with sepsis through educating healthcare providers; developing screening tools, order sets and protocols; metric tracking; and monthly case reviews with focused feedback.

The team uses evidence-based care bundles from the Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines, which has been linked to decreased mortality and improved quality outcomes. Staff from the emergency departments, the Rounding Nurse Program and eICU are instrumental in expediting the identification and care of this patient population.

Additionally, WakeMed performed higher on CMS-SEP-1 evidence-based bundle compliance compared to the surrounding Triangle hospitals on the recently reported Hospital Compare data.


If you suspect you or someone you know may have sepsis, see a medical professional immediately, call 911, or go to a hospital and say, “I am concerned about sepsis.”

Thousands of lives can be saved each year by simply raising awareness of its symptoms. Early recognition and treatment are key!