New York State Department of Health Recognizes Sepsis Awareness Month

Department Urges Early Recognition, Prompt Treatment of Sepsis

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 28, 2023) - The New York State Department of Health recognizes Sepsis Awareness Month, an educational initiative to protect people from the devastating effects of sepsis. This initiative emphasizes the importance of early recognition and timely treatment of sepsis, as well as the importance of preventing infections that could lead to sepsis.

This year's Get Ahead of Sepsistheme encourages the public to know the risks, spot the signs, and act fast.

"Sepsis can affect anyone, at any age, and regardless of medical conditions," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "If you or someone you know has an infection that's not improving, remember to act fast and reach out to a health care provider."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis is the body's acute response to an infection. Sepsis is life-threatening, and without treatment, can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Anyone can get an infection,and nearly any infection, including COVID-19, can lead to sepsis.

Each year:

  • About 1.7 million adults in America develop sepsis.
  • At least 350,000 adults who develop sepsis die during their hospitalization or are discharged to hospice.
  • 1 in 3 patients who dies in a hospital had sepsis during that hospitalization.

Get Ahead of Sepsis reminds patients and caregiver groups about the importance of sepsis prevention, early recognition, and appropriate treatment. Anyone can develop sepsis however some groups are at higher risk including:

  • Adults 65 or older
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease
  • People with recent severe illness or hospitalization, including due to severe COVID-19
  • People who survived sepsis
  • Children younger than one

A person with sepsis might have one or more of the following signs or symptoms:

  • High heart rate or weak pulse
  • Fever, shivering, or feeling very cold
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Clammy or sweaty skin

Additional information to reduce your risk of sepsis, such as sepsis caused by COVID-19, include the following:

  • Talk to your health care professional about steps you can take to prevent infections that can lead to sepsis, including:
    • Take care of chronic conditions
    • Get recommended vaccines, since vaccinations prevent some infections, but do not cure sepsis
  • Practice good hygiene:
    • Wash your hands
    • Keep cuts and wounds clean and covered until healed
  • Know the signs and symptoms of sepsis. People who might have sepsis should be urgently evaluated and treated by a health care professional.
  • Most people who develop sepsis have at least one underlying medical condition, such as chronic lung disease or a weakened immune system.
  • Nearly a quarter to a third of people with sepsis had a health care visit in the week before they were hospitalized.
  • Sepsis is a medical emergency. If you or your loved one has an infection that's not getting better or is getting worse, act fast. Get medical care immediately and ask a health care professional, "could this infection be leading to sepsis?" and whether you should go to the emergency room.

For more information about Get Ahead of Sepsis and to access materials, visit: