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Baptist North Mississippi’s ER team is fighting sepsis with early detection

Every year, 750,000 Americans are diagnosed with sepsis and of those, 220,000 die. With mortality rates estimated between 28 – 50 percent, it far exceeds the number of U.S. deaths from prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. Sepsis is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of infections that occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This widespread inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can lead to blood clots and leaky vessels, resulting in impaired blood flow that damages the body’s organs by depriving them of nutrients and oxygen.

In severe cases, one or more organs fail and in the worst cases, blood pressure drops, the heart weakens, and the body spirals toward septic shock. Once this happens, multiple organs may quickly fail and the patient can die. Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi is committed to addressing sepsis by continually improving their processes of care using techniques that have been proven effective with the goal of providing the best care to every patient every time.

In 2012, Baptist North Mississippi initiated a multi-disciplinary sepsis team to address sepsis mortality. Published data have shown that delays in the recognition and treatment of sepsis are associated with worse outcomes, while early treatment improves survival. Therefore, the team’s approach was to focus on efforts aimed at early detection and rapid initiation of appropriate treatment.

By following evidence-based guidelines recommended by an international committee called the Surviving Sepsis Campaign, a sepsis bundle was adapted focusing on elements that were best supported by evidence and felt to have the greatest impact if implemented reliably on every patient with a suspected diagnosis of sepsis. Additionally, a measurement system was developed to track and promote compliance with the key elements of the guidelines.

The ER Sepsis Bundle initiative was launched in July 2012. Knowing that decreased mortality and better outcomes were associated with increased bundle compliance, the ER team was ready for the challenge. Overall bundle compliance at the beginning of this initiative was at 13 percent, but in April 2013 they achieved a score of 77.78 percent. The national average for sepsis bundle compliance is around 75 percent.

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