School Nurses and Staff, Learning About Sepsis During Sepsis Awareness Month

September 6, 2019

September is well underway, which means students are back at school, daycares are back to their routines, and after-school activities have restarted. As we send our children off, we know that some will at some point come home sick, with viruses and other infections caught from their friends and classmates, and some will be injured. Some injuries are minor – a scrape or a cut – while others are more severe, such as fractures from a fall.

Most children who get sick or are injured recover quickly. It may take a few days in bed or a visit to the doctor, but they get better. Unfortunately though, there are always some children who will develop complications from their illness or injury, which could be serious, even fatal. Sepsis is one of those complications.

Any child who develops an infection, be it a viral infection like the flu or a bacterial infection like a urinary tract infection or from a cut on their leg, can be at risk for developing sepsis. Over 80% of sepsis cases begin in the community. Each year, more than 75,000 children develop sepsis; 9% die and many survivors are left with long-term issues, such as amputations or a decline in cognitive or physical function. Twenty percent of children who survive sepsis are readmitted to the hospital within three months of their discharge, one-third within two weeks. More than half of these readmissions are related to sepsis or infection.

Of particular interest to teachers, coaches, and caregivers is how many survivors return to school or activities seemingly healthy again, but they struggle. More than one in three survivors show a decline in their ability to function and cannot perform at grade level up to 28 days after their discharge from the hospital. A former straight-A student may no longer be able to concentrate and hand in poor work. A star track runner may not be able to practice as hard or run as fast. Knowing this is vital so the adults understand that while the children may look fine – they may not be.

According to a study published last year in the Journal of School Nursing, there are about 132,300 public and private school nurses and 95,800 full-time equivalent positions in the United States. Many schools no longer have school nurses, depending on the teachers and administrative staff to manage emergencies. This means that school nurses and educational staff need to be aware of the health and medical issues that could affect the children in their care. For this reason, it’s vital that anyone who works with children be aware of sepsis and how it presents in children.

This September, Sepsis Awareness Month, is a good time to get up to speed on sepsis. Please visit Sepsis and School Nurses and Sepsis and Children to learn more. There are also several other topics related to sepsis in the Sepsis and.. library, such as Sepsis and Appendicitis, Sepsis and Bacterial Infections, and more.

Knowing how sepsis starts and how to recognize it is the first step in saving lives. Please join us in our It’s About TIME™ campaign and help keep our children as healthy as they can be.