The untimely death of a Queens boy inspired new state health regulations. Now, his family has taken their campaign to Washington D.C. YNN's Erin Billups filed the following report.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rory Staunton, 12, died of septic shock in a city hospital a year and a half ago. Since then, Rory's family has been working tirelessly to bring awareness to the issue.
"We don't want any other mom or dad to stand in a hospital room and not know what sepsis is and then to hear that your child died from it, something that they didn't have to die from," says Orlaith Staunton, Rory's mother.
What are called "Rory's Regulations" are now in place in New York. The state Department of Health is requiring that all hospitals have a plan in place to detect and treat sepsis, a serious bloodstream infection, in the early stages.
"Those regulations will save between six- and 8,000 New Yorkers every year," says Ciaran Staunton, Rory's father.
On Tuesday, the Stauntons took their fight to the national stage. Rory's father testified before the U.S. Senate Health Committee, urging more education on the problem.
"It is one of the largest killers, not just in the United States, but in the world, yet sepsis has not received the attention it deserves from governments throughout the world, or indeed, our own government up until today," he says.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill agreed.
"I think this is one of the most important hearings this committee has had or will have in this entire year," says Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. "This is not intractable. This can be solved, but it's going to take some concerted effort."
Dr. Beth Bell, an official from the Centers for Disease Control, says sepsis is one of several hospital acquired infections, or HAIs, that the agency is focusing on.
"Approximately one in 20 hospitalized develop HAIs, and over 1 million infections occur each year across health care settings," Bell says.
Bell says the key is knowledge of the infections, improving communications, and implementing guidelines and prevention strategies with state and federal partners.
One major problem the CDC is running up against are antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Still, Bell says these infections can be eliminated.
"There's much, much improvement that we can make as we drive toward that as a goal," she says.
Until then, the Stauntons plan to continue getting the word out.