Family’s loss highlights importance of sepsis awareness


Allyson Moe never will forget standing in Daniel and Allison Harrold’s yard, grieving the tragic death of their daughter, Clover.

The Harrolds worked at Roper St. Francis Healthcare when Clover died of sepsis in 2017. The severity of Clover’s illness was initially missed and the delay in recognition and timely treatment prevented her from receiving life-saving interventions.

“Sepsis symptoms can initially be vague, and it often mirrors other conditions, as well,” said Moe, RN clinical specialist at Roper St. Francis.

Moe wants to raise awareness about sepsis among clinicians so patients can get the help they need faster. Sepsis is a systemic reaction to infection in the body, which responds to it in an unregulated way that is more damaging than the infection itself. There’s no single test to identify sepsis.

Since Clover’s death, Roper St. Francis has prioritized sepsis awareness, particularly among front line staff. The Harrolds helped launch the Clover Award, which recognizes clinicians who identify early warning signs of sepsis and get help for their patients. RN clinical specialists and educators teach sepsis recognition in RN onboarding as well as to new graduate nurses in the accredited Roper St. Francis RN Residency Program so they are prepared when they start work.

One common misconception about sepsis is that it only affects elderly or chronically ill patients, she said. Sepsis can affect anyone at any time with any type of infection, she said.

“Sepsis does not discriminate,” Moe said.

That same year Clover died, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched Get Ahead of Sepsis, an educational initiative to protect Americans from the devastating effects of sepsis. This initiative emphasizes the importance of early recognition and timely treatment of sepsis, as well as the importance of preventing infections that could lead to sepsis.

Public education is critical to save lives since, for many patients, sepsis develops from an infection that begins outside the hospital.

“Detecting sepsis early and starting immediate treatment is often the difference between life and death. It starts with preventing the infections that lead to sepsis,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “We created Get Ahead of Sepsis to give people the resources they need to help stop this medical emergency in its tracks.”

The signs and symptoms of sepsis can include a combination of any of the following:

To learn more about what causes Sepsis, the signs and symptoms and who is at risk, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Sepsis education website.