How One Boy’s Preventable Death is Fueling the Fight Against Sepsis

In an effort to halt sepsis, the story of a young boy’s tragic encounter is fueling the campaign to spread critical awareness farther.

How One Boy s Preventable Death is Fueling the Fight Against Sepsis
Photos: Courtesy of the Staunton Family

SCRAPED OUT: After a seemingly harmless scrape on the elbow, 12-year-old Rory died of sepsis—a life-altering complication of an infection that kills over 200,000 people annually in the U.S. alone.

More than 1 million Americans get sepsis annually, and over 258,000 die from it.

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals and the eleventh leading cause of death overall in the United States, killing more people annually than AIDS, prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.

Those who don’t die often experience dramatic, life-altering consequences including losing limbs or organ dysfunction. Sepsis is also expensive, accounting for an estimated $23 billion annually in national health care expenses.

“‘Like so many others, Rory’s death from sepsis was preventable. Lack of awareness of sepsis, and its signs and delays in diagnosing the condition, contribute to the  staggering mortality rates.'”

Rory’s story

Sepsis took the life of Rory Staunton, a healthy 12-year-old boy who contracted a fatal case of the disease in 2012 from a seemingly innocuous scrape on the elbow. Since then, his parents Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton created the Rory Staunton Foundation, which works to increase awareness of the dangers of sepsis and improve hospital protocols.

“Like so many others, Rory’s death from sepsis was preventable. Lack of awareness of sepsis, and its signs and delays in diagnosing the condition, contribute to the  staggering mortality rates.”

ENSURING PREVENTION: With Rory’s Regulations—first adopted by the state of New York—hospitals must ensure that the best practices for early identfication and treatment of sepsis are implemented.

Radiating reform

To make sepsis diagnosis a priority in hospitals, the Stauntons have helped to create Rory’s Regulations, which require hospitals to adopt best practices for the early identification and treatment of sepsis. The initiative requires hospitals to communicate critical test results to parents before a child is discharged from the hospital.

New York state adopted Rory’s Regulations in 2013.

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