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|Headquarters||San Diego, CA, United States|
|Carl Flatley, DDS, MSD|
|Affiliations||Global Sepsis Alliance|
-American Sepsis Alliance (2004–2007)
-Sepsis Alliance (since 2007)
Sepsis Alliance is a voluntary health organization dedicated to raising awareness of sepsis by educating patients, families, and healthcare professionals to treat sepsis as a medical emergency. The organization is recognized as a 501(c)(3) charity by the Internal Revenue Service.
The organization was founded in 2004 as the American Sepsis Alliance by Carl Flatley, DDS, MSD, a retired endodontist from Dunedin, Florida. Dr. Flatley's daughter, Erin K. Flatley, had undergone an elective surgery, a hemorrhoidectomy. Within days, she was experiencing incredible pain that prompted her family to bring her to the emergency department. On April 30, 2002, six days after her procedure, Erin died from septic shock. Tests performed at the hospital revealed significantly elevated white blood counts, however neither Erin nor her parents were aware of these blood test results until after her death.
Dr. Flatley researched the causes of sepsis in the months that followed, later noting frustration that he had lost his daughter to "something he had never even heard of." In 2004, he founded the American Sepsis Alliance with the goal of educating doctors and emergency room workers about sepsis. In 2007, the organization changed its name to Sepsis Alliance, broadening its focus to include awareness of patients and their families about sepsis.
Sepsis Alliance is a patient advocacy non-profit organization funded by contributions from individual donors, corporations, and foundations. In addition to these major sources of funding, Sepsis Alliance is a named beneficiary from several annual fundraisers, and also generates income from sepsis-related materials.
In 2010, Sepsis Alliance commissioned its first public survey, designed to gauge public perception of sepsis. Prepared by Harris Interactive, the survey asked 1,004 adults whether they were familiar with sepsis. According to the survey, 66% of respondents had never even heard of sepsis. Among those who had heard of sepsis, 35% did not know what sepsis was, while 55% thought that sepsis was a type of infection. Thomas Heymann, President of Sepsis Alliance, noted, "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."
Awareness remains low as seen in annual surveys. The 2013 survey, also prepared by Harris Interactive, found that only 44% of adult Americans had heard of sepsis. Among over 2,500 U.S. adults, younger Americans were significantly less likely to have heard the term "sepsis," with 57% of U.S. adults ages 18–34 indicating that they had never heard of it, (compared to 47% of those age 35–44, 39% of those age 45–54 and 36 percent of older Americans aged 55+). In addition, women were much more likely to have of sepsis, with 49 percent of women saying they have, compared to 38 percent of men confirming they had heard the term. The most recent survey, done in 2015, revealed similar findings. The survey found that American adults were more familiar with rarer illnesses than sepsis. For example, 86% reported knowing about Ebola, 74% knowing about ALS, and 76% knowing about malaria, while only 47% of Americans were as aware about sepsis.
On July 26, 2011, Rachael Ray featured a segment called "What Is Sepsis". The segment featured Dr. Flatley and Dr. James O'Brien, an intensive care unit (ICU) doctor and Director at Sepsis Alliance. In a pre-taped segment, Dr. O'Brien introduced viewers to Jennifer Ludwin, a survivor of H1N1 influenza. Ludwin's legs and most of her fingers were amputated due to complications from sepsis. Ludwin, a graduate student at the time at The Ohio State University, went on to become a speaker on H1N1 and sepsis, even appearing in her own TEDxTalk in April, 2012.
In 2011, Sepsis Alliance launched Sepsis Awareness Month. Sepsis Awareness Month is promoted every September through social media, and online and traditional media. Supporters are encouraged to participate in awareness activities, such as photo challenges, slogan contests, wearing red and black ribbons, and distributing sepsis awareness materials. The Know Sepsis tagline is also promoted among healthcare professionals, and facilities are encouraged to promote sepsis awareness through workshops, lectures, and special events.
Sepsis Alliance was one of the original founding members of the Global Sepsis Alliance (GSA), which supports the efforts of caregivers as they seek to better understand and combat sepsis.[not specific enough to verify] Sepsis Alliance and other members of the GSA hosted the Merinoff Symposium on September 29, 2010, bringing together global experts on sepsis to help create a public definition of sepsis, a molecular definition of sepsis, and a global call to action to recognize sepsis as a medical emergency.
GSA and its member organizations launched the first global World Sepsis Day on September 13, 2012. In the U.S., Sepsis Alliance marked the occasion by hosting its first-ever Sepsis Heroes event, designed to recognize sepsis survivors, doctors, and healthcare providers that have helped raised awareness of sepsis in the community. Held in New York City, Sepsis Heroes was one of the first Sepsis Alliance-produced events to bring both survivors and healthcare professionals in one location. Earlier recipients of the Sepsis Heroes awards included Jen Ludwin, the North Shore-LIJ Health System, and the founders of two local fundraisers dedicated to raising funds and awareness of sepsis.
The next Sepsis Heroes is set to take place, once again in New York City, on September 13, 2018.