How Do You Prevent Blood Poisoning? Hire Miss Sepsis!


  • Caitlyn Allen Patient Safety Authority





Forty percent of Americans have never heard of sepsis—a condition that kills more people than breast cancer, stroke, AIDS, and opioid overdoses combined.1 Sepsis, put simply, occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, backfires, and attacks its own organs, and it takes the lives of 270,000 Americans each year.1 The only two diseases that kill more Americans are heart failure and cancer.

Even more troubling is how easy the condition is to get. A common misconception, even among clinicians, is that sepsis only occurs in the hospital. But the truth is that 8 out of 10 cases are community-acquired,1 and sepsis can stem from almost any infection, even those seemingly benign like strep throat, a splinter, or a scraped knee.

The symptoms are nonspecific and include one or a combination of six signs—high fever or chills, confusion, elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, sweaty or clammy skin, and extreme pain or discomfort2—with many survivors reporting they felt like they were “going to die” or believed they had a bad case of the flu.

The good news? As difficult as sepsis can be to detect, it can almost as easily be prevented. The best way to do that is by making sepsis top of mind—for someone who has quickly become sick for no apparent reason to assume that it may be sepsis and seek immediate medical attention.

Enter Miss Sepsis, a fictional young girl who contracted sepsis after she scraped her knee and her parents missed the signs— and the focal point of the Patient Safety Authority’s new awareness campaign. She recounts her tale and reminds everyone “Don’t Miss Sepsis.” The concept was to create a character whom viewers would see as their own child, spurring a protective instinct to prevent a similar fate. Thankfully, Miss Sepsis survived, but she also provides statistics to inform that many are not so lucky.


Image of Miss Sepsis



How to Cite

Allen, C. (2019). How Do You Prevent Blood Poisoning? Hire Miss Sepsis!. Patient Safety, 1(1), 40–41.



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