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sepsisSeptember marks Sepsis Awareness Month, which brings public education and awareness to this serious medical condition that affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year.  Sepsis is caused by the body’s response to infection.  Left untreated, it can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death, so early detection and effective treatment are important.

This year, Governor Baker has declared September 13 as Massachusetts Sepsis Day and has recognized the Massachusetts Sepsis Consortium, a new partnership of 25 organizations representing government, health care, and advocacy that will work together to address this public health concern. The Consortium aims to increase public and provider awareness about sepsis to improve prompt diagnosis and treatment in all medical settings, including emergency departments and urgent care clinics.

There are certain individuals who may be at higher risk for contracting sepsis, including:

  • Adults 65 and older
  • Children under the age of one
  • People with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Individuals exposed to infection associated with surgical or invasive procedures

Sepsis can be caused by almost any infection, and anyone can develop an infection in their body. Even if you or a loved one don’t fall into one of these categories, it’s still important to recognize the signs and symptoms which can include confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, high heart rate, fever, extreme pain or discomfort and other conditions. Sepsis is a medical emergency and early detection and treatment is important. If you suspect sepsis or have an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse, speak to your health care professional.

In addition to the work being done in Massachusetts, there are many excellent online resources for more information about sepsis, including the CDC website which offers resources for patients, sepsis FAQs, and clinical resources to help you better understand this serious complication.

The Department of Public Health is a member of the Massachusetts Sepsis Consortium and looks forward to continued work with our partners, during September and all year long, on this important public health issue.

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