Only half of EMS workers confident in detecting sepsis, survey finds

Only 52 percent of more than 1,300 emergency medical services practitioners surveyed said they are very confident in their ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis, a recent survey found.

The survey, which was released by the Sepsis Alliance and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, was conducted from Jan. 17 to Jan. 29.

EMS practitioners transport more than half of all sepsis cases to hospital emergency departments. Despite the prevalence of sepsis, one in five EMS practitioners said their organization does not have a sepsis-specific protocol, and about one in three said their organization is not well prepared to address a patient with sepsis.

Even when patients show signs of sepsis, 58 percent of respondents said not all hospitals initiate a sepsis protocol. One in four respondents said physicians are reluctant to diagnose patients with the potentially fatal condition. Many of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, such as fever and difficulty breathing, are the same as in other conditions, making sepsis hard to diagnose in its early stages, according to the CDC.

"These survey results highlight the vital need for increased sepsis education and awareness among first responders, their in-hospital counterparts, and the general public," said Thomas Heymann, president and executive director of the Sepsis Alliance.

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