CDC Launches a New Sepsis Guide for Hospitals


This guide aims to assist hospitals in identifying and managing sepsis at an earlier stage. ICT interviews 1 of the authors.

CDC  (Adobe Stock, unknown)


(Adobe Stock, unknown)

Today the CDC announced a new resource, Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements, for hospitals to recognize and treat sepsis earlier and save lives. The resource will assist hospitals in implementing, monitoring, and optimizing sepsis programs to improve survival rates.

This new guide aims to aid hospitals in implementing, monitoring, and optimizing sepsis programs and improving survival rates. According to the latest CDC survey of 5,221 hospitals, 73% of them have sepsis teams, but only 55% provide dedicated time to manage sepsis programs to team leaders.

Raymund (Ray) Dantes, MD, MPH, CDC medical advisor and co-developer of the Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements, explained to Infection Control Today® (ICT®) in an earlier interview that “Sepsis occurs when an infection you already have triggers a chain reaction throughout your body leading to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death. Infections that lead to sepsis most often start in the lung, urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria cause most infections that lead to sepsis. Sepsis can also result from viral infections, such as COVID-19, influenza, or fungal infections. The most frequently identified pathogens that cause infections leading to sepsis include Staphylococcus aureusEscherichia coli, and some Streptococcus species.”

Dantes also answered ICT's questions about sepsis and this new program.

ICT: Where can the best sepsis education be found for health care professionals, patients, and caregivers?

Raymund (Ray) Dantes, MD, MPH, CDC: Please see our Resources page for some educational resources: Resources | Core Elements | Sepsis | CDC

ICT: What measures should be taken to enhance sepsis identification, management, and recovery?

RD: The CDC Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements provide details on how to structure sepsis programs that emphasize sepsis identification, management, and recovery. Furthermore, the Core Elements describe the quality improvement structures needed to continue to measure performance and provide feedback to providers.

ICT: Infection preventionists and EVS personnel have a role in this fight against sepsis. What advice/guidance do you have for those individuals? And where do they fit in on educating on sepsis?

RD: While most sepsis is present upon admission to the hospital, there is still a group of patients who develop sepsis in the hospital, often due to health care-associated infections. The Sepsis Core Elements recommend that infection prevention (which often includes EVS) participate in a hospital sepsis committee so that priorities and efforts are aligned.

ICT: Do you have anything you would like to add?

RD: The CDC Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements are a tool that can empower health care professionals to obtain the leadership support, protected time, IT resources, and other resources so they can continue to improve sepsis care in their hospitals.

Sepsis survivor speaks

Additionally, during the announcement of this guide, Alice Tapper, a 15-year-old sepsis survivor patient advocate, and a junior in high school, with her mother, Jennifer Tapper, spoke of Alice’s life-threatening sepsis illness. Now that she has recovered, Alice said she is “on a mission to tell my story and encourage hospitals to listen to patients even if they're young and to parents. If [my] appendicitis had been taken seriously, and the signs and symptoms of sepsis had been acknowledged, my course of care would not have resulted in weeks in the hospital and a long recovery at home….Now I'm speaking out for others who do not have a voice….Together we can save lives by listening to patients, families, and caregivers and improving sepsis care.”

Another parent of a sepsis survivor spoke to ICT in an exclusive 3-part series.

Recognizing sepsis early is key

CDC director, Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, said, as noted in the news release, “Sepsis is taking too many lives. One in three people who die in a hospital has sepsis during that hospitalization. Rapid diagnosis and immediate appropriate treatment, including antibiotics, are essential to saving lives, yet the challenges of awareness about and recognition of sepsis are enormous. That’s why CDC is calling on all US hospitals to have a sepsis program and raise the bar on sepsis care by incorporating these seven core elements. [These] 7 elements provide an organizational framework and key concepts that guide hospitals as they work to improve early recognition and treatment to save lives.”

Chris DeRienzo, American Hospital Association senior vice president, stated during the announcement, “One aspect of the CDC Centers core elements that we really appreciate is that they don’t put forward a one size fits all approach. We know that sepsis is complex, and when I look across the spectrum of hospitals and communities in this country, the Core Elements allow our hospitals to build a program that fits their community.”

The 7 Sepsis Core Elements are Leadership Commitment, Accountability, multi-professional expertise, Action, Tracking, Reporting, and Education.

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