Sepsis Alliance Survey Reveals Over 60% of Americans Don’t Know Sepsis

October 12, 2010

Sepsis Alliance, the leading patient advocacy group in sepsis awareness, today announced the results of a commissioned survey of the public’s perception of sepsis. The survey by Harris Interactive® revealed that 66% of Americans had never heard of the word “sepsis.” Of the remaining third familiar with the word, 35% of the group did not know what sepsis was, while 55% responded that sepsis was a type of infection.

“The result of our polling was very significant,” noted Thomas Heymann, President of Sepsis Alliance. “Sometimes known as blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury in the body. The fact that only one-third of respondents had even heard of sepsis, let alone understood what it was, reinforces the urgent need for increased public awareness of sepsis.”

The Harris Interactive survey was designed to be comparable to a similar survey conducted in 2003, where 19% of Americans admitted to having heard the term “sepsis.”

“While we’re pleased that more people are recognizing the word ‘sepsis,’ our survey still shows an incredible disconnect in Americans’ understanding of sepsis,” added Sepsis Alliance Founder, Dr. Carl Flatley. “Our mission is to use this data to help medical professionals and members of the public identify the signs of sepsis earlier, treat sepsis as a medical emergency, and stop sepsis in its tracks.”

The results of the survey follow the Merinoff Symposium 2010: Sepsis, an international forum on sepsis hosted by the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the Global Sepsis Alliance. At the Merinoff Symposium, medical professionals and leaders from industry, government and philanthropy from around the world met to discuss sepsis, which costs the health care system in the United States nearly $17 billion every year. Experts in the field discussed how sepsis impacts other leading causes of death, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and other infections in the global health community. The group issued a call to action to treat sepsis as a medical emergency. More information on the Merinoff Symposium is available at:

Harris Interactive conducted the polling by telephone between June 23-27, 2010 among 1,004 adults (age 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, and number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. The survey also revealed differences in sepsis awareness among age groups and gender. For instance, fewer men than women confirmed having heard the term sepsis (26% vs. 39%). Also, the age group least likely to have heard about sepsis was those under 35 years of age (22%), followed by adults over 55 (32%) and those between 35-54 years of age (42%).

About Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance is a nonprofit patient advocacy organization in the U.S. promoting awareness of sepsis. Sepsis Alliance operates by providing information and education to raise awareness of sepsis and its devastating effects, So More Survive. Sepsis Alliance also provides support by giving people affected by sepsis a forum to share information. Sepsis Alliance was founded by Dr. Carl Flatley after the loss of his 23 year-old daughter, Erin, to sepsis. Her death in 2002 spurred Dr. Flatley to start an organization that would promote awareness of sepsis to both medical professionals and patients. Sepsis Alliance is registered as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and is a founding member of the Global Sepsis Alliance. For more information on Sepsis Alliance, please visit

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us — and our clients — stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit