Interdepartmental cooperation key to lowering sepsis mortality rates

Efforts to improve patient outcomes and lower costs associated with sepsis--a major driver of patient mortality and 30-day hospital readmissions--requires early detection of the condition and cooperation from all hospital departments, according to an article in Hospitals & Health Networks.

For best results, emergency department clinicians must diagnosis sepsis so treatment can begin before the patient is admitted to a medical department, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Vice President Andrea Kabcenell, R.N., told H&HN.

Kabcenell and IHI released a set of care bundles aimed at early detection of sepsis, signs that often present when the patient is in the emergency room. "The quickest way to reduce sepsis mortality is to start in the emergency department and focus on early diagnosis and adherence to the sepsis bundle as an all-or-none bundle, not just one or two elements of it," Kabcenell explained. "[I]f you can catch people with sepsis early in their ED stay and before they are sent to a unit, they have a good start."

Departments must work together with sepsis patients to bring down the deadly infection's staggeringly high mortality rates, Kabcenell said.

Sepsis is responsible for half of all hospital deaths, outstripping the combined costs in mortality and expenses than heart attacks and heart failure combined. Houston Methodist Hospital announced last year that its four-part anti-sepsis program brought down deaths and costs associated with the syndrome. The program's components included:

  • Organizational commitment and data-based leadership
  • Development and integration of an early sepsis screening tool into the electronic health record
  • Nurse education and training
  • Twice-daily nurse screenings of patients in targeted units

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