Sepsis is a public health crisis worthy of a public policy response
The Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention today reported on a new study released on May 21, 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) confirming that sepsis protocols in New York State hospitals are leading to expedited intervention and a steady decline in sepsis deaths. Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, who lost their son, Rory, at twelve years old to undiagnosed and untreated sepsis, are the driving force in the adoption of New York State’s Rory’s Regulation protocols. They are now calling on state and federal officials to take action in the adoption of Rory’s Regulation protocols nationally.
Sepsis will kill upwards of 300,000 Americans in 2017 and will result in more that $20 billion in healthcare costs. Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton commented: “In light of this new evidence, we call on governors, health commissioners, and Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, to adopt these protocols nationally. Families across America to date still do not know the meaning of the word ‘sepsis’, and because of that and the lack of comprehensive sepsis policy, are losing their family members in droves. It’s time to enact these lifesaving, low-cost, simple regulations in every medical institution in the country. Constituents should hold their elected officials accountable and ask them why they are allowing this crisis to continue when it is within their power to prevent it.”
The NEJM study, co-authored by Dr. Chris Seymour, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Mitchell Levy, a physician and professor at Brown University’s medical school, examines data from New York and confirms that the sepsis regulations adopted in 2013 led to faster care and increased chances of survival for sepsis patients. Rory’s Regulations, require hospitals to follow a checklist of steps within the critical three hour window; including blood tests, checking blood lactate levels (a marker for sepsis) and beginning antibiotics. The faster hospitals completed the checklist, the lower the risk of death.
Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming reaction to infection. It causes inflammation, damages tissue, and leads to organ failure and death. The Stauntons established the Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention following their son’s death and actively campaign for the adoption of sepsis protocols in every state by 2020. Illinois adopted regulations in 2016 and Pennsylvania is moving to do so this year with more states to follow. The new study should bolster support for the regulations–and the Stauntons and their supporters will continue to fight at the state and national level until every hospital in the country operates with a sepsis protocol in place. None other than Atul Gawande, the physician, bestselling author of The Checklist Manifesto, and author of the World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety Checklist hailed the progress made by New York State as “impressive and important.” He added, “It’s real evidence that time matters.”
April 1st represented the fifth year since Rory’s Staunton’s death. “We are not going away. We demand a systemic change within our nation’s healthcare system. The most respected and recognized medical journal concurs with the benefits of Rory’s Regulations. The suggested ‘policy response’ is long overdue,” Orlaith Staunton concluded.