Simple Measures Cut Sepsis Deaths Nearly in Half
Hospitals should prepare simple standardized treatment protocols for early recognition and treatment of sepsis, a condition in which infections spread to the bloodstream. That’s the finding of researchers who were able to cut the number of patients who died from sepsis, by 40% (from 12.5% to 7.1%) after the introduction of relatively easy steps at the wards at Levanger Hospital in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway.
A release from the university explains that he steps, which included increased training and a special observation chart, were introduced as part of a research project carried out by Nord University, Levanger Hospital, and the Mid-Norway Centre for Sepsis Research at NTNU and St. Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, Norway.
The release quotes Erik Solligård, the senior author of the study and head of the Mid-Norway Centre for Sepsis Research, as saying, “This study suggests that ward nurses have a key function in increasing the survival for patients with serious infection. The use of cost-effective and clear tools for the identification of sepsis and the scoring of severity in patients as well as a standardized treatment course can achieve this. These simple steps should be implemented in all Norwegian hospitals.”
A serious, potentially fatal problem
According to the Global Sepsis Alliance, a worldwide alliance of health care providers working to increase knowledge about the problem, the majority of sepsis cases are caused by common infections. Pneumonia, urinary tract infections, skin infections like cellulitis and infections in the abdomen (such as appendicitis) can cause sepsis, as well as invasive medical procedures like the insertion of a catheter into a blood vessel. The Alliance says sepsis is the primary cause of death from infection, despite advances in modern medicine like vaccines, antibiotics, and intensive care.
Sepsis is a “common” disease that occurs relatively often and affects individuals of all ages. The illness can quickly evolve from being relatively mild to life-threatening. With a mortality rate of over 10%, sepsis is among the seven most common causes of death in North America and parts of Europe. Mortality increases further for every hour the patient goes without treatment in the form of antibiotics and fluids. It is therefore vital to identify sepsis early and start treatment quickly.
“Sepsis is a very common and serious condition that many people die from,” Solligård says. “Patients with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes or cancer are particularly at risk. However, sepsis is not as easy to detect as lifestyle diseases, and it doesn’t attract nearly as much attention.”