The Rory Staunton Foundation and North Shore-LIJ Health System have joined forces and announced that they will convene a panel of experts to explore the current failing methods of addressing sepsis care and share ideas for a fresh approach in Washington, D.C. on Sept 17, 2014. The forum is entitled “A Fresh Approach to a Persistent Problem.”

Orlaith and Ciaran Staunton, Founders of the Rory Staunton Foundation, commented, “The National Forum could not come at a more opportune time following the dramatic sepsis analysis and new data that appeared in JAMA. We look forward to this national event bringing light to sepsis, which has fallen under the radar screen in medical literature and by many agencies, but remains a vigilant killer."

“Since the unnecessary death of our son Rory at the age of 12 years old from undiagnosed and untreated sepsis, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that no other parent suffer as we continue to. New York State enacted the Rory Regulations, mandating sepsis protocols in every hospital in the state; we pleaded for sepsis awareness in the United States Senate to Senator Harkin’s Committee; and after much work received the support of Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We feel today that our battle has just begun and will not waiver until every medical professional worldwide considers, ‘Could this be sepsis?’ and acts accordingly.”

The Foundation concurrently reported on a recent abstract in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) setting forth critical information regarding fatality statistics, challenging current diagnostic data and correcting the record on sepsis as a hospital-acquired infection. The abstract was authored by leading physicians at Kaiser Permanente Medical Group and sepsis investigators from the Universities of Pittsburgh and Michigan.

The short but compelling narrative resets the barometer regarding sepsis deaths, diagnosis and currently accepted data.

Sepsis contributes to more deaths in this country than we have previously recognized.

The authors concluded that “sepsis contributed to 1 in every 2 to 3 deaths” in their study. They also specifically chose the word “contributes” as sepsis directly causes deaths and also accelerates the dying process for individuals with other conditions such as cancer, COPD or heart failure.

The majority of individuals who died with sepsis presented to the hospital with the illness. It was not the result of a hospital-acquired infection.

This point needs to be stressed to people without medical training so that they recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis and get appropriate attention as early in the course of sepsis as possible. Hospitals and healthcare institutions need to do all that is practicable to eliminate hospital-acquired infections. That said, this alone will not eliminate the largest burden of sepsis as a life-threatening illness. It also suggests that the primary focus of efforts to increase recognition and diagnosis of sepsis should be within our Emergency Departments, Physician offices and Urgent Care Centers, where individuals seek care at the early stages of significant illness.

More deaths occur in individuals who present to the hospital in the early stage of sepsis than those presenting with advanced sepsis.

This might seem counter intuitive given the previous statement about early community recognition and seeking medical attention for early stage sepsis. But it emphasizes to hospitals, physicians, nurses, EMTs and paramedics that greater focus on recognition of the signs and symptoms, timely diagnosis and aggressive use of appropriate antibiotics is just as important in early sepsis as is the work many hospitals have been doing for the past several years to improve our recognition and treatment of more advanced “Severe Sepsis” and “Septic Shock,” which have been widely perceived as the greater problem.