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CDC launches campaign to catch sepsis early


December 1, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a campaign to help bring attention to the dangers of sepsis, a condition that is fast becoming the number one cause of death in U.S. hospitals.

The CDC launched the initiative in late August. Called “Get Ahead of Sepsis,” the program is an educational initiative to protect Americans from the devastating effects of sepsis, including emphasizing the importance of early recognition and rapid treatment, as well as the importance of preventing infections that could lead to sepsis.

According to a CDC statement, sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. It is life-threatening, and without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Each year in the U.S., more than 1.5 million people develop sepsis, and at least 250,000 Americans die as a result.
Some reports indicate that one person dies in U.S. hospitals from sepsis every 20 seconds. To make matters worse, the treatment and screening for sepsis could lead to an increase in other common and pesky healthcare infections, including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), according to a new report published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

In that study, titled Impact of an electronic sepsis initiative on antibiotic use and health care facility–onset Clostridium difficile infection rates, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City used data collected from four patient wards between June 2011 and July 2014 to analyze the unintended consequences of sepsis screening and treatment protocols, which generally involves large amounts of antibiotics.

“We found that the implementation of an integrated sepsis initiative coincided with changes in use of broad-spectrum antibiotics and [healthcare facility–onset] CDI rates in adult patients admitted to medical wards,” the authors of the study wrote. “Because these protocols are increasingly used, further study of their unintended consequences is warranted.”

According to the CDC, public education is critical to save lives since, for many patients, sepsis develops from an infection that begins outside the hospital, and treatment goes on from there once admitted.
The “Get Ahead of Sepsis” program calls on healthcare professionals to educate patients, prevent infections, suspect and identify sepsis early, and start sepsis treatment fast. In addition, this work urges patients and their families to prevent infections, be alert to the symptoms of sepsis, and seek immediate medical care if sepsis is suspected or if an infection is not improving or is getting worse.

“Detecting sepsis early and starting immediate treatment is often the difference between life and death. It starts with preventing the infections that lead to sepsis,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, in a CDC statement. “We created Get Ahead of Sepsis to give people the resources they need to help stop this medical emergency in its tracks.”

According to the CDC, the signs and symptoms of sepsis can include a combination of any of the following:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • High heart rate
  • Fever, or shivering, or feeling very cold
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Clammy or sweaty skin

“Healthcare professionals, patients, and their family members can work as a team to prevent infections and be alert to the signs of sepsis,” said Lauren Epstein, MD, medical officer in CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “Get Ahead of Sepsis encourages healthcare professionals and patients to talk about steps, such as taking good care of chronic conditions, which help prevent infections that could lead to sepsis.”

Meanwhile, the CDC says it is continuing to learn more about sepsis by doing the following:

  • Study risk factors for sepsis
  • Help healthcare professionals, patients, and their families to recognize the signs of sepsis
  • Develop more reliable ways to measure the impact of successful interventions
  • Encourage infection prevention through vaccination programs, chronic disease management, and appropriate antibiotic use

For more information about Get Ahead of Sepsis and to access materials, visit www.cdc.gov/sepsis.


How states are fighting sepsis

Here are some examples of what states are doing to battle sepsis:

Gabby's Law – Illinois Senate Bill 2403 (SB 2403)

This law was named in honor of a 5-year-old girl who developed an infection from an undetected tick bite that led to sepsis. It requires hospitals to:

  •  Implement an evidence-based process for quickly recognizing and treating adults and children with sepsis
  • Train staff to identify and treat patients with possible sepsis
  • Collect sepsis data to improve the quality of care and provide it to the state (e.g., the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program)

(New York) Rory’s Regulations – NYCRR Title 10 Sections 405.2, 405.4, and 405.7

This law was named in honor of a 12-year-old boy who died when he developed an infection that led to sepsis after falling and cutting himself in a school gym. It requires hospitals to:

  • Implement an evidence-based process, which should include suitable training, resources, and equipment for healthcare providers, for quickly recognizing and treating sepsis in adults and children.
  • Collect sepsis data to improve the quality of care and provide this data to the state annually.
  • Implement a Parents’ Bill of Rights to ensure that parents and primary care providers receive vital information about children’s care. Some components include:

?    Allowing parents or guardians to stay with pediatric patients at all times
?    Reviewing medical tests with the patient or the patient’s parent or guardian before discharging a child patient

Reducing Sepsis Mortality in Ohio – Ohio Hospital Association’s Sepsis Initiative
This two-year sepsis prevention and early recognition program, funded from CMS’ Leading Edge Advanced Practice Topics (LEAPT), focuses on reducing sepsis mortality in Ohio by 30%. The program encourages hospitals to:

  • Conduct a survey to identify gaps in sepsis knowledge and treatment
  • Identify, track, and report sepsis data
  • Provide healthcare provider training for sepsis prevention and early recognition

“Think Katie First” – Wisconsin Hospital Association’s Partners for Patients Initiative

This initiative was named in honor of Katie McQuestion, a 26-year-old healthcare worker who died from sepsis after being hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. It brings Wisconsin hospitals together to:

  • Reduce sepsis mortality through early detection and rapid treatment of sepsis
  • Share sepsis prevention and early recognition best practices

Collaboration efforts have led to a 16% decrease in mortality-associated sepsis since 2013.

Source: CDC.

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