• Reference Material
  • September 30, 2017

Children's Hospitals Plan to Observe Sepsis Awareness Month

Children's hospitals observed Sepsis Awareness Month in September and World Sepsis Day on September 13 in a variety of ways.

Here are examples from some of the 47 hospitals participating in CHA's Improving Pediatric Sepsis Outcomes (IPSO) collaborative. 


Children’s of Alabama

This hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, planned daily events Sept. 11-15, including

  • Welcome and gifts distribution at crosswalks
  • IPSO collaborative physician champion presentation during Acute Care Symposium on sepsis
  • Employees wore red and black
  • Display table at grand rounds with sepsis education material
  • Unit-level activities and candy bag distributed

The hospital created a flyer and posted signs in the parking decks, featured pop-up banners in hospital (high traffic areas, entrances, crosswalks). An all-employee email from the CEO informed staff of Sepsis Awareness Month and provided general information about the importance of sepsis, the hospital's commitment, and encouraged participation in activities.

Children's Health Children's Medical Center Dallas

Children’s Health SM in Dallas, Texas, launched a series of system-wide and targeted communications on September 13 focused on sepsis awareness, recognition and prevention, and highlighted a dedicated sepsis team.

To build awareness across all staff, the hospital featured an e-newsletter series, which included an introduction to sepsis and how to protect yourself, an infographic, how it addresses sepsis system-wide and an interview with the sepsis team.

To reinforce expected behaviors among clinical staff, the hospital included signage in staff hallways and break rooms, an article in a physician-facing newsletter, a sepsis-related "safety moment" in a daily safety briefing, and it distributed sepsis clinical guidelines via targeted email and unit leadership.

The hospital also celebrated the dedication of its sepsis team with a breakfast, which included a personal message of thanks from leadership. The team's work was a lead story in a system-wide e-newsletter.

Children’s Hospital Colorado

This hospital in Aurora, Colorado, engaged staff with activities focused on the slogan: "Is this Sepsis? Saving a life starts with asking the question." The hospital focused on bringing attention to its local process improvement project and work with CHA’s IPSO collaborative.

As part of this effort, sepsis information appeared on the hospital’s intranet homepage and TV screens in staff areas. Articles in a biweekly clinical team newsletter highlighted team members, such as Sepsis Hero Award recipient Beth Wathen, and showcased the resources the hospital is testing on general care floors. 

Reaching all staff, the hospital featured the slogan on computer screen savers throughout the hospital, and staff received emails from the CNO and chief medical and patient safety officer. 

To help its teams access key sepsis information easily, the hospital created a central document of resources, including algorithms for an escalation huddle and an urgent IV and lab draw; an updated order set for inpatient suspected sepsis; and a sepsis checklist that the team continued to update with treatment and process recommendations. The hospital’s IT team ensured the document was the first result for anyone who searched “sepsis” from the intranet homepage.

Other plans included: 

  • Gave away travel coffee mugs and mouse pads with the sepsis slogan as a daily reminder to ask “Is this sepsis?”
  • In-person rounding in care areas - shared information, and provided resources and updates
  • Collected ideas and feedback sent to StopSepsis@childrenscolroado.org email address

Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU

This hospital in Richmond, Virginia, built awareness through

  • Sepsis town hall provided education, institution data and fun games (e.g. which team could infuse IV the fastest with push-pull method, a variation of Jeopardy)
  • Facilitated discussion including how providers feel, sepsis huddles, communication and barriers to share successes and challenges
  • Daily safety call for staff featured pediatric and adult sepsis topics
  • Sepsis awareness ribbons (red and black) were available at units and events
  • Cookies decorated with the ribbon for staff on September 13th

The hospital also educated the community through open time for families to learn about what sepsis is, how they can help and what the health system is doing. Sessions included games, fun activities and food. Richmond also advertised on its Facebook page and other social media.  

Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics 

This hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, offered patient and family outreach with a booth outside the hospital cafeteria on World Sepsis Day, Sept. 13. There were giveaways, such as bacteria-shaped stuffed toys, candy and a trifold sepsis brochure. 

For staff, a situational awareness tool for sepsis screening was rolled out as part of a campaign to promote diagnosis and awareness hospital-wide.

Children’s National Medical Center

Children’s National in Washington, D.C., took sepsis education to its units in “Sepsis Carts,” which contained education materials, such as fliers and brochures including

  • What is sepsis?
  • Sepsis burden at CNMC 
  • Current work of the sepsis collaborative at CNMC

Nursing staff may have participated in a simulation exercise. The Emergency Department held a special education session for its clinicians on sepsis. 

Cook Children's Medical Center

Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas, plans included

  • Focused on sepsis during Grand Rounds
  • Shared World Sepsis Day with its community via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Interactive sepsis storyboards (posters) in the hospital atrium
  • Fluid bolus races
  • Played spin the wheel and answer a sepsis question
  • Shared World Sepsis Day plans before and after the event in weekly updates and intranet

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

C.S. Mott in Ann Arbor, Michigan, educated physician house staff during grand rounds through a presentation titled, “It’s Okay to Use the ‘S-word’ Around Children: Suspect Sepsis, Save Lives!” offered by a hospital c-suite admin, physician and nurse.  They also presented to faculty who do not attend grand rounds.  To broaden its reach, the hospital posted a sepsis awareness flyer in the facility and circulated it electronically and on an elevator slideshow.

Goryeb Children’s Hospital

This hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, instituted a sepsis recognition protocol in the Pediatric Emergency Department and inpatient units to increase earlier intervention and improved outcomes. In May, the team celebrated the launch of this initiative with a week of sepsis awareness activities including a pediatric vs. emergency resident trivia match, timed push-pull races, and guest speakers, including members of the Sepsis Alliance and parents of Goryeb sepsis survivors.

The hospital planned additional activities in September, including

  • Education and training sessions, which included a focus on specific sepsis skills for nursing staff  
  • Breakfast for the staff on World Sepsis Day, Sept. 13, acknowledging their hard work supporting the initiative 
  • Jeopardy game between the pediatric residents and the medical students 
  • Multi-disciplinary educational session and mock simulation code, which reinforced the initiative principles 
  • “Sepsis Heroes” certificates to those dedicated to supporting the initiative

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital

This hospital in Loma Linda, California, used World Sepsis Day to announce to staff its involvement in the IPSO collaborative. Screensavers on every hospital computer included photos of children and the theme: “Help our hospital defeat sepsis and save lives,” plus a link to “Practice early identification, fast treatment and ongoing assessment.” The link pointed to a video from the Executive Sponsor, which was also on the hospital’s home page. The video reviewed what sepsis is and highlighted what the hospital is doing to fight morbidity and mortality from sepsis.  Posters and festive balloons were placed throughout the hospital prior to rolling out bundle implementations.  

Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children (Wilmington)
Nemours Children's Hospital (Orlando)

Nemours hospitals in Wilmington, Delaware, and Orlando, Florida, highlighted sepsis awareness to their providers and communities.  

Starting in September, each facility participated in an "Amazing Race Against Sepsis," a weekly series of events that covered the daytime and nighttime staff.

  • The first week included educational blitzes on the inpatient units playing "Wheel of Questions," a Wheel of Fortune style game where staff answered questions regarding sepsis symptoms and treatment goals (for a sweet reward).
  • The second week included physical challenges, such as competing to see which team completed their interventions the fastest. This included activities like "IO in an Egg" and "Push-Pull Bolus Races," and "MDs versus RNs."  
  • The third week combined both the mental and the physical using sepsis simulations, and teams rapidly assessed and determined which patients met sepsis intervention criteria and then raced against the clock to establish IV access; deliver hand-written medication orders; receive, deliver, and administer their IV antibiotics; and administer any fluid boluses necessary based on simulated patient status.
  • The month culminated in a Jeopardy competition, where small teams from each facility competed in "Sepsis Jeopardy" to become the Sepsis Champion of Nemours.

Additionally, the hospital filmed interviews with families of patients who’ve participated in sepsis screenings and received interventions to prevent their progression to severe sepsis. They highlighted these families’ experiences to personalize the effect of early intervention.  

North Carolina Children’s Hospital (UNC Health)

UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, kicked off its 2018 sepsis program plan and announced that UNC Hospitals had joined CHA's IPSO collaborative.

This year’s Sepsis Awareness Day theme was “Code Sepsis: Educate. Innovate. Activate!” It was an all-day event in the children’s hospital lobby with poster sessions, light refreshments, game prizes and sepsis education.

Over 500 families of pediatric patients were educated about sepsis recognition and treatment with the Family Sepsis Education Initiative (FSEI) championed by Sepsis Alliance 2016 Sepsis Heroes honoree Hillary Spangler, a first year Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Resident at UNC. Patient and family advocates who are sepsis survivors were invited to attend this year's event and were recognized for their commitment and service. 

The hospital also offered simulation training for IV fluid resuscitation and just-in-time education to nurses on sepsis recognition and Code Sepsis protocol.  They recognized the frontline patient care teams who work to stop sepsis at the hospital. 

Other events planned during the month included celebrations of the unsung heroes in Phlebotomy, Pharmacy, Respiratory Therapy and Communications who care for patients but are not always on the frontline.

Primary Children’s Hospital

In addition to its ongoing sepsis program, which includes updates via weekly email to PICU staff and bimonthly discussions with PICU and ED care providersPrimary Children's in Salt Lake City, Utah, planned several initiatives:

  • Included sepsis patient case and discussion about efforts at PCH in the Intermountain Patient Stories September publication
  • Included Sepsis Awareness Month information on the unit huddle boards and in unit huddles
  • Shared sepsis awareness goals at safety coach meeting
  • Developed posters to encourage sepsis awareness and three key points for posting in high-risk areas, bathrooms, work rooms, elevators, etc. 
  • Shared sepsis awareness goals at RN charge nurse meetings and regularly scheduled meeting series for various divisions (e.g. NICU, PICU, PEM M&M conferences)
  • Distributed posters and targeted information for the PCH educator group to share with their departments
  • Announcement at Grand Rounds and ZH Situation Awareness lecture series through September