Making Strides Against Sepsis

September 12, 2017

Sepsis can be deadly, but it doesn’t have to be. For the past year, MedStar St. Mary’s has increased efforts to recognize sepsis early and treat it quickly to ensure the condition doesn’t cost someone their life.

“Since we began our sepsis protocol, we have seen a dramatic decrease in sepsis mortality,” said Jennifer Alvey, BSN, RN, director of the Intensive Care Center (ICC), Respiratory Therapy and Three Central.

Last September, MedStar St. Mary’s began calling a Code Sepsis for patients who are showing signs of developing the deadly condition. Once the code is called, a sepsis response team — Intensive Care Center and Emergency Department staff, a respiratory therapist and the patient’s primary nurse — reviews the patient’s medical chart and any trends in their vital signs to help identify the source of the infection. A pharmacist is also consulted to make sure the proper medications are being given.

According to the Maryland Hospital Association (MHA), sepsis is among the top 10 most common and potentially preventable complications across Maryland hospitals, and it is also a leading cause of mortality and readmission. Continually rising sepsis rates spurred the MHA to partner with the Maryland Patient Safety Commission to create an 18-month collaborative of 11 Maryland hospitals to work toward reducing hospital sepsis mortality.

MedStar St. Mary’s participated in the state program and is helping to take the efforts to the next level by partnering with other regional hospitals to establish a Southern Maryland Collaborative, which will hold its first meeting in the Education & Simulation Center Sept. 19.

“Maryland has taken a really hard stance on sepsis,” Jennifer said. “Next, we will be working to help educate long-term care facilities about the early warning signs. A lot of patients from these places already have it by the time they get here and by then it’s too late.”

How You Can Help Prevent Infections

  • Follow infection control requirements (e.g., hand hygiene) and ensure patients receive recommended vaccines (e.g., flu and pneumococcal).
  • Educate patients and their families. Stress the need to prevent infections, manage chronic conditions, and seek care if signs of severe infection or sepsis are present.
  • Think sepsis. Know sepsis signs and symptoms to identify and treat patients early.
  • Act fast. If sepsis is suspected, order tests to determine if an infection is present, where it is, and what caused it. Start antibiotics and other medical care immediately. Document antibiotic dose, duration, and purpose.
  • Check patient progress frequently. Reassess antibiotic therapy 24-48 hours or sooner to change therapy as needed. Be sure the antibiotic type, dose, and duration are correct.
    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Learn more about Sepsis on our website. 

Partners in the Southern Maryland Sepsis Collaborative

Purpose of Collaborative

  • Offer education
  • Facilitate networking
  • Establish joint problem solving