Letter: Hospital taking steps to reduce costly, deadly sepsis

From: Cassie Bolduc, Dr. Raymond Kiser and Chris Newkirk

Columbus Regional Hospital

Have you ever heard of sepsis? Most Americans have not, yet it is a huge problem with an expensive cost of care associated with it. Sepsis is diagnosed in over 1 million patients each year in the United States. Furthermore, septicemia treatment resulted in an estimated $20.3 billion, or 5.2 percent, of the total costs for all hospitalizations and was the most expensive condition treated in 2011.

Not only is sepsis prevalent and expensive, it is associated with high mortality rates and accounts for more hospitalizations than those for heart attacks and strokes combined. According to the Surviving Sepsis Campaign International Guidelines, sepsis is associated with mortality rates ranging from 16 to 49 percent for all ages.

When our body detects an infection, it will normally fight back by releasing chemicals to take care of the infection. When you have sepsis, the body’s response becomes dysregulated, or out of control, and the chemicals from your body’s own defense mechanisms can actually lead to organ failure and death.

Sepsis can result from any type of infection. It can start out as a simple cut, or even pneumonia, a urinary tract infection or appendicitis. There is no specific lab test to detect sepsis, but rather it is a series of symptoms that require prompt diagnosis and treatment. Early identification and treatment are key in preventing further complications or even death.

The Surviving Sepsis Campaign, which had initial work in 2001, has been embraced by physicians, nurses and providers throughout the nation, and in 2012 a revised version of the campaign was launched. Due to several activated groups and families affected by the disease, Congress became involved, and in 2015 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid adopted the Early Management Bundle for Severe Sepsis/Septic Shock.

These guidelines were put into place to facilitate efficient, effective and timely delivery of high-quality sepsis care. Research has found that bundling interventions increases the likelihood that they will all be performed collectively and reliably and thus lead to improved patient outcomes.

The Indiana Hospital Association has activated a statewide initiative to reduce the number of postoperative sepsis cases and decrease sepsis patient mortality. Our hospital has been engaging all of our multidisciplinary teams to “Think, Treat, Stop Sepsis.” Our hospital has been providing increased education to increase awareness of sepsis and devoted the entire month to Sepsis September and to do our part to stop this deadly illness.