Sepsis Awareness Month | iStock
Let's Talk About Sepsis Prevention
Everyone is talking about infection these days—COVID-19 has raised the profile of how deadly an infection can become and how we must all do our best to prevent infection and stay healthy.
For my family, infection prevention became our life’s work when in April 2012, our young son Rory Staunton died following an infection he received playing a game of basketball in gym class. Rory grazed his arm, and as a result of this injury he died. The wound on his elbow wasn’t cleaned and a toxin entered his blood system killing him days later. It was only after he died that we learned his death was the result of sepsis, something we had never heard of. His death was preventable. We know now that any infection can become septic; and if an infection is not treated, it can lead to serious injury or death.
Sepsis kills more Americans than AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and stroke combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, it kills more than 270,000 Americans every year. We built a foundation now known as “END SEPSIS, the Legacy of Rory Staunton” as a way to educate families and children about infection and how it can lead to sepsis.
Many deaths attributed to COVID-!9 are sepsis-related deaths. In addition, children who are diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which sometimes occurs in children who have the COVID virus, often present to their medical professionals in septic shock. This is another reason why children need to know how to prevent an infection and how to get help if they become infected.
So, how do we educate children about infection and sepsis in age-appropriate ways? In 2019, we collaborated with the American Federation of Teachers to provide infection and sepsis education to preK-12 classrooms across the country, with a new sepsis prevention curriculum.
The curriculum is engaging and activity-based for the younger age group; and as children get older, it centers on how students can remain educated on health issues and become advocates for themselves and their loved ones. The lessons are aligned to various national standards and were created by educators with experience teaching about sepsis in their own classrooms.
September is Sepsis Awareness Month, and we urge you to share this infection prevention curriculum with your students during this month and beyond. It’s full of engaging, standards-aligned preK-12 lessons. Students can learn what to do to prevent an infection: washing their hands, for example, and they can learn how any infection can turn septic. In addition, they will learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis. We believe if we teach our children in school, they will take these lifesaving lessons home.
Sepsis Prevention and Awareness Curriculum
Our curriculum breaks down in the following way:
- How to care for small wounds and the importance of basic first aid (Grades PreK-2)
- How to prevent the spread of germs (Grades 3-5)
- The signs and science of sepsis (Grades 6-8)
- How to educate others about the dangers of sepsis and become an advocate for effective public health solutions (Grades 9-12)
In the meantime, learn about the signs of sepsis here in this fun infographic—the information could save a life.
About the Author:
After losing her son Rory to sepsis in 2012, Orlaith Staunton co-founded the End Sepsis: The Legacy of Rory Staunton (formerly Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention) to raise awareness about prevention and ensure that no other children died of sepsis resulting from the lack of a speedy diagnosis and immediate medical treatment.
Did you miss the first blog? Read it here.