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Harkin Marks World Sepsis Day, Announces Upcoming Hearing on Efforts to Reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement today to mark World Sepsis Day and to announce that the HELP Committee will convene on September 24th at 10:00 a.m. to discuss efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections, including sepsis.

“No one should leave a hospital sicker than when they came in. We know that many healthcare-associated infections are preventable and easily treatable, given that our medical professionals have the right education and training about symptoms and warning signs,” Harkin said. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans contract sepsis infections each year—so we must take bold steps to prevent these needless illnesses and deaths. I look forward to exploring these issues when the HELP Committee convenes later this month to discuss efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections and improve patient safety overall.”

According to information provided by the National Institutes for Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Mayo Clinic, severe sepsis strikes approximately 750,000 Americans each year. Those with weakened immune systems, children, infants, and the elderly, are the most vulnerable. While early detection and aggressive treatment can improve the chances for survival, sepsis remains a leading cause of death in American hospitals. It is also an extremely costly condition; in 2008, nearly $15 billion was spent on hospitalizations for sepsis.

Between one-third and one-half of all sepsis patients die, and those who survive are more likely to have permanent organ damage, cognitive impairment, and physical disability. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 10% of all ICU admissions are caused by sepsis, and the CDC notes that patients hospitalized for sepsis are more than eight times as likely to die during their hospitalization than those hospitalized for other diagnoses.

Testifying at the hearing will be Ciaran Staunton, the father of 12-year-old Rory Staunton, who died in 2012 from sepsis caused by a cut from a fall in the gym at his school a few days earlier. The Rory Staunton Foundation seeks to reduce the number of death from sepsis through education and outreach aimed at faster diagnosis and effective treatment of sepsis, particularly in children. 

Details on the hearing follow.

The hearing will be webcast live at:

Testimony and archived videos will be posted at:

HEARING: “U.S. Efforts to Reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections”

DATE:  Tuesday, September 24, 2013
TIME:  10:00 a.m.
PLACE:  SD-430

Panel I

Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, Chief Medical Officer and Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality; and Acting Director, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Baltimore, MD

Beth Bell, MD, MPH, Director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

Panel II:

Ciaran Staunton, The Rory Staunton Foundation, New York, NY

Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, FACP, FACMI, President, Clinical and Physician Services & Chief Medical Officer, HCA/Hospital Corporation of America, Nashville, TN

Joe Kiani, Founder, the Patient Safety Movement, Irvine, CA