Sepsis is often deadly, but difficult for clinicians to diagnose in its early stages. So children’s hospitals across the country are forming a coalition to reduce deaths and push for greater awareness of the early warning signs.
Forty-four hospitals have joined the effort so far, according to an article from STAT, with more expected to follow suit. These providers have set a lofty goal: Reduce both sepsis deaths and advanced sepsis diagnoses among children by 75% within the next three years.
Some of the participating providers already have programs in place to quickly identify sepsis. For example, Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas, screens children early on for the signs of sepsis, hoping to identify patients who have “warm sepsis,” which is less advanced and easier to treat.
“A kid who is well into sepsis is not that hard to recognize,” Joann Sanders, M.D., the system’s chief quality officer, told STAT. “That warm sepsis kid—that’s your challenge.”
Cook Children’s employs an 18-step sepsis screening process that includes checking circulation and asking about any signs of confusion. The process takes less than a minute, and any child flagged as a sepsis risk is started on antibiotics, fluids and oxygen before a blood test is completed, according to the article.
Sepsis is a major driver of mortality and hospital readmissions, even more so than the conditions tracked by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under its Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated best practices to stress early detection.
Another possible solution for providers is embracing sepsis monitoring tools offered through electronic health records. A new report finds that those who are already doing this are seeing positive results, too. KLAS Research interviewed 95 providers who use these tools and found that 69% reported better outcomes and saw sepsis mortality decrease by up to 50%. Roughly 20% of respondents said it was too early in the tools’ use to determine meaningful results.