September is Sepsis Awareness Month: Know the signs


COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Sepsis is a medical emergency that occurs when the immune system overreacts to an infection – working against the body instead of helping. When sepsis occurs, time is of the essence to prevent serious harm or even death. On September 1, Maury Regional Health kicked off Sepsis Awareness Month by encouraging the public to recognize the signs of sepsis and to act urgently when the condition is suspected.

Sepsis – sometimes referred to as blood poisoning or septicemia – can affect patients of any age, regardless of their overall health. Those at greatest risk include children, older adults with chronic health conditions and individuals whose immune systems are compromised. More than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with sepsis each year in the United States.

“Sepsis can develop from any type of infection, including a minor cut, urinary tract infection and pneumonia,” said Thomas E. Quinn, Jr., M.D., a specialist in critical care medicine at Maury Regional Medical Center. “Because sepsis can progress quickly, it is vital to recognize the warning signs and to seek medical care as soon as sepsis is suspected.”

Seek help immediately when someone exhibits these signs, represented by the acronym TIME:

T: Temperature that is not normal – either high or low

I: Signs of an infection

M: Mental decline, confusion or difficult to rouse

E: Extreme illness, severe discomfort or a feeling of being near death

Other signs of sepsis may include shortness of breath, rapid heart rate and sweaty or clammy skin. Children who have sepsis may have pale or mottled skin, develop a rash that does not fade when pressed or have convulsions. Watch also for a very young child who is not eating, is not urinating and/or is vomiting.

According to the Sepsis Alliance, the risk of death from sepsis increases by as much as eight percent for every hour that treatment is delayed. When signs of sepsis are present, or an individual has an infection that does not seem to be responding to treatment, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room and tell the provider that you are concerned about sepsis.

“Identifying sepsis at an early stage allows health care professionals to provide medical intervention aimed at preventing serious complications, such as tissue damage, organ failure or even death,” said Dr. Quinn.

Learn more about sepsis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at or the Sepsis Alliance at

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