Hospitals slash sepsis rates with nursing-focused strategies

In what could be a template for other hospitals to follow, nine acute care facilities in the Bay Area teamed to dramatically reduce their sepsis mortality rates, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Each of the hospitals tailored a sepsis program specific to their facility, and focused primarily on empowering nurses. Some of the hospitals encouraged nurses to screen more closely for sepsis patients who were admitted to the emergency department, or allowed them to order lactate blood tests, which can detect the condition.

During the six-month period prior to the program being implemented in December 2008, the facilities had an average mortality rate of 27.7 percent. By the time the program ended two years later, it had dropped to 16.6 percent. The hospitals reported an average drop of 40 percent of patients who contracted sepsis.

"The key issue here, in addition to having standardized workflow and screening, is really about educating the medical staff," said Dr. Susan Ehrlich, CEO of San Mateo Medical Center, one of the participating hospitals. "It's helping them understand why we worry about sepsis ... and what we can do to change those outcomes."

The hospitals worked in conjunction with the Integrated Nurse Leadership Program at the University of California at San Francisco.

For more:
- read the San Francisco Chronicle article
- read the UCSF Synapse article