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New Sepsis Alliance Survey Reveals Parents Are Not Armed With the Knowledge to Spot Sepsis in Their Children

October 10, 2017

Latest research shows that while 77 percent of parents know the word sepsis, only 28 percent can actually identify the common signs from this condition that kills more children than pediatric cancer every day in the U.S.

SAN DIEGO, CA – Sepsis Alliance has just announced alarming findings of a new pediatric survey, conducted by Radius Global Market Research among more than 1,000 parents with a child in the household. The research from June of 2017 identified that three-quarters of parents had heard the word “sepsis,” but only 28 percent of parents knew the signs of sepsis in children, a condition that takes more young lives than childhood cancer every day in the U.S.1

Sepsis is an extreme response to an infection. It is life-threatening and, without the right treatment, can cause organ failure, amputation, and death. More than 75,000 children develop severe sepsis each year across the country,2 often leaving a lifetime of repercussions. Many of those lives could be saved with improved public awareness of sepsis as a medical emergency, combined with expanded health provider education.

The survey revealed that 41 percent of parents think children can only get sepsis if they are already in the hospital; however, the reality is as many as 92 percent of sepsis cases originate in the community.3 Sepsis can develop as a result of everyday occurrences, like a scrape on the playground, a mosquito bite that becomes infected, a urinary tract infection, or a simple case of the flu.

“We are extremely heartened to see that more than 75 percent of parents have heard of sepsis, as it’s the first step in saving the lives of America’s children,” said Thomas Heymann, Executive Director of Sepsis Alliance.“We can now focus on educating parents about the symptoms. It was staggering to also learn that nearly 3 in 4 parents don’t know the common signs of sepsis, a medical emergency requiring early detection and rapid response to prevent limb loss and death.”

Parents are not equipped with an understanding of how to spot sepsis in children and this need for awareness is the catalyst behind Erin’s Campaign for Kids, a Sepsis Alliance initiative that aims to inform and educate parents and medical professionals about sepsis in children. This includes resources like the new Sepsis and Children feature video featuring Niranjan “Tex” Kissoon, MD, FRCP(C), FAAP, FCCM, FACPE, a globally recognized leading expert on sepsis in children. The short feature tells the story of 8-year-old Michael Stolzenberg who developed sepsis from a cut that became infected, ultimately leading to a quadruple amputation of Michael’s arms and legs.

Michael’s story demonstrates just how life-changing sepsis can be, despite the fact that the survey revealed 42 percent of parents believe there are no long-term effects on children after having sepsis. In reality, surviving sepsis can be very challenging, with one in three children experiencing a decline in their cognitive functional status at just 28 days after leaving the hospital.4 Many others undergo life-altering complications including amputations.

“More than 3 million children around the world die from sepsis every year,” said Kissoon. “However, this survey found that only half of parents agree that sepsis is the number one killer of children in the world,5 showing that awareness is a critical first challenge to addressing this global crisis. We need to continue educating parents and the public about this medical emergency to save the lives of youth around the world.”

For more information on sepsis, Sepsis Alliance, and Erin’s Campaign for Kids, please visit

Download and View Survey

2017 survey results can be found here:

Survey Methodology

Sepsis Alliance commissioned Radius Global Market Research to conduct an online survey on their behalf among over 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older with at least one child in the household in June, 2017 to measure sepsis awareness among parents. The results were weighted to the US census for age, gender and region.This survey was created in consultation with Tex Kissoon, Vice President, Medical Affairs at BC Children’s Hospital and Professor, Pediatric and Surgery (Emergency Medicine) Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC; Jerry Zimmerman, MD, PhD, FCCM, Professor of Pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital and University of Washington School of Medicine as well as former Chief of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital; and Scott Watson, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital and University of Washington School of Medicine as well as Associate Division Chief, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

About Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance is the leading nonprofit patient advocacy organization in North America. Sepsis Alliance’s mission is to save lives by raising awareness of sepsis as a medical emergency. The organization hosts national and community events, distributes educational information, and promotes training and education on sepsis prevention and early recognition and treatment. Sepsis Alliance also supports sepsis survivors and family members with information about sepsis and Post Sepsis Syndrome, as well as a Faces of Sepsis community forum. The website receives more than 1.5 million visits each year. Sepsis Alliance, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a GuideStar Gold Rated Charity. For more information, please visit