After Muhammad Ali's death, hospitals can't ignore sepsis

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Sepsis is one of the most deadly hospital-acquired infections, affecting up to 10 percent of patients, but vague treatment guidelines have hamstrung hospitals’ efforts to prevent it. Now, in the wake of Muhammad Ali’s death last week due to sepsis complications, some hospitals are stepping up their efforts to diagnose the condition early, according to The Indianapolis Star.

The Indiana Hospital Association’s Patient Safety Center has tracked sepsis mortality rates since 2008. To make meaningful progress on the condition, providers must compare notes to develop best practices, experts say. The aging population, which is at higher risk of being immunocompromised, may be bringing with it an upswing in sepsis cases, as more of such patients need devices to be implanted. One of the major hurdles is the fact that early sepsis symptoms are easy to confuse with other conditions, so numerous hospital leaders who don’t automatically consider the possibility miss an opportunity to identify it, leading to patients’ conditions deteriorating, according to the article.

To prevent such scenarios, Johnson Memorial Hospital has worked to educate emergency triage nurses on sepsis symptoms and added a checklist of potential warning signs to patients admitted from the ER’s charts, according to the article. The provider has also worked to improve handoffs from emergency rooms to inpatient care, designating a rapid response nurse to conduct daily screenings for sepsis symptoms.

Experts warn providers must also turn their attention toward public education on the condition as well; numerous sepsis patients do not consider it a possible cause of their symptoms when their physicians haven't identified the source of the infection itself. This is the case for about 30 percent of sepsis patients, according to the article. “Even though it can be subtle, it’s still deadly,” Robert Hattabaugh, a clinical nurse specialist at Johnson, told the publication. Experts also hope a recently-developed definition for the condition from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will help cut rates, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

- here’s the article

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