August 15, 2018

MedStar St. Mary’s Decreases Sepsis Deaths


Sepsis is a potentially deadly condition, but it can be treated. MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown has been working for the past year to increase efforts to recognize sepsis early, treating it quickly to ensure the condition doesn’t cost a patient his or her 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, Respiratory Therapy, and Three Central.

About a year ago, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital began calling a Code Sepsis for any patient showing signs of developing the deadly condition. When the code is called, a sepsis response team — including the patient’s primary nurse, Intensive Care Center and Emergency Department staff, and a respiratory therapist — reviews the patient’s medical chart and possible trends in vital signs to identify the source of the infection. A pharmacist is also consulted to ensure the patient is receiving proper medications.

The Maryland Hospital Association says sepsis is among the top 10 most common and potentially preventable complications in Maryland hospitals, and is a leading cause of death or readmission. Rising sepsis rates convinced the MHA to partner with the Maryland Patient Safety Commission and create an 18-month collaborative of 11 Maryland hospitals that are working to reducing hospital sepsis mortality.

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

“Maryland has taken a really hard stance on sepsis,” Ms. Alvey 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.”

Help Prevent Infections

Everyone can help prevent infection. When visiting the hospital, or caring for a patient at home, follow infection control requirements like hand-washing and ensure patients receive the recommended vaccines.

  • Patients and families need to understand the need to prevent infections, manage chronic conditions, and seek care if signs of severe infection or sepsis are present.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of sepsis to identify and treat patients early.
  • Act fast. If a healthcare profession suspects sepsis, he or she must order tests to determine if an infection is present, where it is, and what caused it. Professionals will start antibiotics and other medical care immediately. Patients and their families should document antibiotic dose, duration, and purpose.
  • The hospital will check patient progress frequently. Staff will reassess antibiotic therapy 24-48 hours or sooner so therapy can be changed if needed. Be sure the antibiotic type, dose, and duration are correct.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Learn more about sepsis on the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital website.

For more information and one-click access to a full list of resources available at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, visit its Leader member page.

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