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From Joseph M. Kontra, M.D., Division Chief, Infectious Diseases, and Medical Director, Infection Prevention

Sepsis is an exaggerated, dysregulated inflammatory response to an infection that results in substantial organ damage, morbidity and mortality. According to the CDC, each year in U.S. hospitals, sepsis is responsible for 1.5 million admissions and 250,000 deaths, accounting for almost half of all U.S. hospital deaths. It is the most expensive disease entity treated in U.S. hospitals, costing over $20B annually, and the most common cause for hospital readmissions. However, sepsis morbidity and mortality can be significantly improved through early detection and rapid initiation of treatment. 
At LGH, the Sepsis Task Force has worked across the system to improve the recognition and evidence-based, prompt management of sepsis. Efforts have included broad education of providers and nurses, sepsis best practice alerts in Epic, documentation tools and order sets for the ED, ICU and the floors. We have in the last 18 months through this institution-wide effort seen a significant drop in our sepsis mortality, now down to 7.2 percent, placing LGH in the top decile nationally. Continued effort will be needed to make progress with our sepsis readmissions, with LGH currently in the 41st percentile nationally, with a 30-day readmission rate of 14 percent.
The microbiology lab at LGH has also geared up for the battle with the implementation of 24-7 rapid molecular diagnostic tests, quicker incubation cycles, rapid laser spectroscopy identification of bacteria, and an automated instrumentation processing line. In addition, coordination of lab results with our antimicrobial stewardship team has reduced by 97 percent the time to optimal antibiotics for patients with our deadliest bloodstream infections.
September is national Sepsis Awareness Month, and Sept. 13 is World Sepsis Day. As an active participant in the Penn Sepsis Alliance, LGH will emphasize the theme: Could this be Sepsis? The goal will be to instill sepsis at the top of mind for all staff and patients. What is sepsis? Who is at risk? What are LGH and the Penn system doing to combat sepsis? The month-long effort will include email notifications from Penn leaders, sepsis reminder screen savers, posters, provider and nursing pocket cards, huddle board sheets, and the availability of videos and other short microlearning. All LG Health employees are encouraged to participate and spread the word. Together we can continue to make progress toward reducing the burden of sepsis for our patients.

  • Click here to watch a video that explains sepsis in three minutes.
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