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Rapid Sepsis Response

How a Communications Platform Improves Sepsis Alerting and Outcomes

Sepsis and Why Rapid Response Is Critical

Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection,  poses a unique challenge to hospitals. It’s tricky to diagnose because signs of sepsis are commonly associated with other conditions, yet it’s critical to diagnose and treat sepsis quickly. The mortality rate for severe sepsis, septic shock, is nearly 50 percent. Seconds count in sepsis treatment. The risk of death from sepsis increases nearly 8 percent with every hour that passes before intervention.

Technology Can Help Care Teams Recognize and Respond to Sepsis

The good news for hospitals is that technology has made it easier to detect and respond to sepsis. EHR systems offer automated sepsis surveillance by collecting vital signs and laboratory test results on patients and triggering a “sepsis alert” for those who have an elevated modified early warning score (MEWS). Sepsis surveillance tools from EHRs can  detect the early stages of sepsis from just a few vital measures and indicate the severity through the MEWS score. Additionally, clinical lab indicators, such as high lactate levels, can indicate someone is septic.

However, a sepsis alert isn’t useful if it doesn’t get to the care team members who can act on it. A healthcare communications platform like  Spok Care Connect can take the EHR’s sepsis alert or a critical test result and automatically deliver it to the right clinicians, often a sepsis rapid response team, on their mobile devices. The alert includes the clinical context they need to act right away, including who the patient is, which room they’re in, and their MEWS score. The alert is sent in just seconds, enabling the care team to respond in minutes. This automated workflow promotes swift response and allows sepsis treatment to begin quickly, potentially preventing tissue and organ damage, or even organ failure and patient death.

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Reduce Your Sepsis Mortality Rate

When the sepsis rapid response team is alerted, they can quickly rally to perform lifesaving intervention—typically the administration of fluids and antibiotics—and save patient lives. Spok customer University of Utah Health has reduced its sepsis mortality rate by 20 percent for patients who have MEWS scores of 7-11 by using this workflow that combines the detection capabilities of their EHR with Spok clinical alerting. Utah Health implemented the streamlined process hospital-wide and are getting physicians and nurses to the bedside in mere minutes from the moment the alert is triggered by the EHR.

More than 250,000 Americans die from sepsis each year, and one in three patients who die while hospitalized have sepsis. Removing manual steps in rapid response team alerts means faster notification and earlier interventions for better patient outcomes. Together, we can help reduce those numbers by automatically delivering sepsis alerts from the EHR to the right caregivers.

Did You Know?

  • Sepsis is the most common cause of death among critically ill patients in noncoronary ICUs (Virulence)
  • Sepsis is the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, costing $24 billion annually (The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
  • The risk of death from sepsis increases 8 percent with every hour that passes before treatment, so early detection and response is critical (Critical Care Medicine)