Crowley Announces Plans to Introduce New Legislation and Form Congressional Caucus to Raise Awareness and Prevent Deaths from Sepsis

September 17, 2014
Press Release

Crowley’s The Rory Staunton CARE for Sepsis Act will Direct Federal Government to Increase Efforts to Fight Sepsis, Create National Action Plan

A Leading Cause of Death in U.S., Sepsis Strikes 750,000 People Every Year

(Washington, D.C.) Marking Sepsis Awareness Month, today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, announced plans to introduce new legislation to improve sepsis awareness, diagnosis, and treatment. Crowley’s bill, named after Sunnyside, Queens resident Rory Staunton, who died at the age of 12 from sepsis in 2012, will direct federal agencies to increase public outreach efforts and to develop and carry out a national action plan to fight sepsis and septic shock. In addition, Crowley announced that he will be forming a new congressional caucus to bring together Members of Congress, families, and advocates to exchange ideas and address policy concerns. Crowley announced these actions while delivering the opening remarks at the Sepsis: Defeating the Killer national forum, hosted earlier today by the Rory Staunton Foundation and North Shore-LIJ Health System.

“Even one death from sepsis is one death too many, and the time is now for the federal government to take a comprehensive and concerted approach to preventing and treating sepsis nationwide. It is my hope that between this legislation and a congressional caucus focused on elevating the issue of sepsis, we can start to make significant headway in treating and preventing this terrible condition,” said Rep. Crowley. “Rory Staunton’s desire to help make the world a better place, even at such a young age, was inspiring, and with these new congressional efforts, we can help do the same in his honor.”

Crowley’s The Rory Staunton Coordination, Awareness, Research and Education (CARE) for Sepsis Act will focus on increasing interagency coordination, raising national attention through public awareness efforts, expanding research and development to better treat sepsis, and improving education for medical professionals to increase early intervention.

“I thank Congressman Crowley for his dedication to this fight. This legislation will go a long way toward helping save lives, and I know Rory would be proud,” said Ciaran Staunton, who, along with his wife Orlaith, established the Rory Staunton Foundation.

Recently, Crowley led a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in sending a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare urging the agency to lead the charge in preventing and treating sepsis nationwide. The Members urged the agency to build upon its efforts that are underway to strengthen the quality of sepsis treatment at U.S. hospitals.

Below are Crowley’s remarks as prepared for delivery from today’s national sepsis forum:

I’m so glad to be here today, and I’m so glad to see such a great turnout for this first, national forum on sepsis hosted by the Rory Staunton Foundation and the Northshore-LIJ Health System.

There are, of course, many people who have been focusing on how we can fight sepsis, and I think you’ll see by the lineup of speakers this morning that there are a lot of great minds working on this issue.

But, a major reason why we are here today is because of the work of two people in particular – Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, and the work they have done to turn their family’s pain into a message of hope for others.

We are also here today because of one other person – Rory Staunton.

I’ve known the Staunton family for a long time. Rory was a great kid, bright and determined, with a real passion for making the world a better place.

Rory wasn’t the type to let wrongs go unaddressed. When he saw injustice or people hurting, he focused right on action to correct it.

It’s in his spirit that we’re here today – to find solutions and to ensure that we’re making things better.

I want to thank Ciaran, Orlaith, their daughter Kathleen, and all their extended family and community who have become part of this effort.

I know that this wasn’t a mission you asked for or wanted, but you have taken it on to help the hundreds of thousands of people affected by sepsis each year – and their families.

Let me add that I know that through their work the Stauntons have formed a community of other families who have shared their sad stories, and I thank you all for adding your voices, your experiences, and your dedication to this issue.

The first problem in fighting sepsis may be one of awareness, but you all have made it clear that you’re committed to turning that around.

That’s why today’s event is so important, to shine a bright light on the issue of sepsis and the answers that we know are there.

Sepsis can be treated – it can be stopped before it takes a life.

But that requires a full-scale, coordinated attack on sepsis in all its forms.

I'm so proud that my home state of New York has been a leader in the fight against sepsis, and a lot of that credit goes to the tireless efforts of the Staunton family.

It's also due to the partners they had in New York State.

Healthcare providers like Northshore-LIJ stepped up to fight sepsis.

And also leaders like former Health Commissioner Shah, who helped guide Rory's Regulations to fruition and positioned New York to set an example for the rest of the nation – and it's an example that must be followed.

We need every state, every hospital, every doctor, every family to be prepared and ready to fight sepsis.

And to do that, we need a strong federal initiative that says sepsis is a priority, and fighting it is our solemn charge.

I'm glad that Dr. Frieden of the CDC is here, because they are and will continue to be integral to these efforts.

And I've been glad to see there is some progress being made on this issue at CDC, CMS, and other agencies.

But we can do more – we must do more.

I'm pleased to announce today that I will be introducing legislation to prevent what happened to Rory from continuing to happen to others.

The Rory Staunton Coordination, Awareness, Research, and Education for Sepsis Act, or the “CARE for Sepsis Act,” will improve and strengthen the federal response to sepsis and the tools we have to fight it.

Coordination. Awareness. Research. And Education. That's what we need to turn the tide against sepsis.

A problem of this magnitude demands a national solution.

My bill will require all our nation's health agencies to work together and create a National Action Plan on sepsis.

It will ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services has a single, high-ranking point person on sepsis, to show that this is a priority for the federal government, and that we are attacking it with our best resources.

What we need is a broad and comprehensive solution.

My bill will direct resources toward greater public awareness efforts, research to better fight this disease, and improved education for our medical professionals on the need for early intervention.

I look forward to finalizing this legislation, and working with my colleagues to build bipartisan support and move it through Congress.

Aside from our federal agencies, we need to get Congress more involved.

So I will be forming a Congressional Sepsis Caucus, to bring together members of Congress who have a shared interest in fighting sepsis.

Members, parents, families, advocates, health care providers, scientific experts, and sepsis survivors will all have a platform to come together and exchange ideas.

We'll elevate this issue and do more to educate policymakers on a deadly condition that is killing over 250,000 Americans each year.

And I hope that we'll see some hearings in the House on the issue of sepsis and what we can do to fight it.

We can't stay silent. We will make clear that even one death from sepsis is one too many.

I thank the Rory Staunton Foundation and Northshore-LIJ for putting together this first national forum on sepsis.

It seems like a great start to what I hope will be a productive and persistent campaign to stop sepsis.

But as much as I’m looking forward to working with all of you on this important cause, I’m even more looking forward to the last national forum on sepsis, when we’ve put a stop to this killer once and for all.

Thank you.


Congressman Crowley is the eight-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.