The majority of Americans don't know what the life-threatening immune condition known as sepsis (or septic shock) is, according to a new review. The study results touch upon a serious illness that strikes a half million Americans each year and kills more than 200,000, but remains something of an enigma to the common public.
"The need of awareness and understanding is one of the major challenges we face in healthcare today," Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York, said in a news release from the health system. "One in four hospital deaths are caused by sepsis, yet the majority of Americans have never even heard of the condition. Sepsis is a secrecy to most Americans."
Among the survey's additional findings:
- despite being particularly vulnerable, nearly 70 percent of adults 65 and older do not know what sepsis is;
- more men than women (63 percent versus 55 percent) are unfamiliar with sepsis, even though men have a higher mortality rate when affected;
- blacks are less familiar with the condition than whites and Hispanics (67 percent versus 58 percent), despite a higher incidence among blacks.