How Main Line Health cut sepsis mortality rates by 55%

Hospitals that seek to reduce the threat of sepsis can learn from the success of one Philadelphia system that cut sepsis mortality by 55 percent, Hospitals & Health Networks Daily reports.

Main Line Health, a five-hospital, community-based teaching hospital system, conducted an analysis of its safety culture and risk of preventable patient harm in 2009, and found a higher-than-expected  mortality rate for severe sepsis--the cause of up to half of hospital deaths. To tackle this problem, Main Line integrated a series of evidence-based best practices that incorporates other leading providers' "surviving sepsis campaigns," Main Line Vice President of Patient Safety and Quality Denise Murphy wrote.

Main Line's strategy for creating a safer culture incorporated a three-pronged strategy:

  • Establish clear expectations
  • Educate, train and equip staff to meet those expectations
  • Create and maintain accountability

The system also incorporated methods to improve reliability and prevent errors, with assistance from partners in the healthcare, nuclear and military industries, Murphy wrote. The organization zeroed in on establishing safety as a core value to ensure it wasn't pushed aside for other priorities. It also analyzed the most common reasons people made mistakes, including inattention to detail, fear of speaking up, self-segregation by work silos and unclear communication, and then used tools to counter these factors, such as the STAR system (stop, think, act, review).

Main Line's investigation found that, while its emergency departments took proper action to identify and resuscitate severe sepsis patients, their processes were not properly aligned. In response, officials developed a multicampus, multidisciplinary team to create standardized checklists and handoffs between ED, hospitalist and critical care unit staff. Due to this model's success, Main Line has since adapted it to inpatient settings, Murphy said.

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