How Sepsis Care Programs Saves Lives | News | Loyola Medicine
Monday, September 9, 2019

How Sepsis Care Program Saves Lives and Reduces Costs

3D medical illustration of sepsis infection in blood stream.

MAYWOOD, IL – A sepsis care quality improvement program saves lives, shortens hospital stays and reduces healthcare costs, according to a study by researchers at Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago.

The study is published in the journal Critical Care Medicine.

Loyola's sepsis care quality improvement program includes a multidisciplinary sepsis committee, an education campaign, electronic health record tools and early warning system.

First author Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, and colleagues examined records of 13,877 adult Loyola patients with suspected infections. Researchers compared outcomes of patients treated before and after the quality program was implemented.

Among patients treated after the quality improvement program began, the in-hospital death rate was 30 percent lower and time to discharge from the hospital was 25 percent faster. The program also was associated with a savings of $272,645 among patients with suspected infections.

Sepsis occurs when an infection triggers an extreme response throughout the body. Sepsis can lead to septic shock, a catastrophic drop in blood pressure that can lead to respiratory or heart failure, stroke, failure of other organs and death.

Sepsis is the leading cause of in-hospital mortality and the most expensive condition treated in the United States. It costs the country more than $24 billion per year.

In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted guidelines for treating sepsis and septic shock that included early resuscitation and timely administration of antibiotics. For patients with severe sepsis, the hospital should obtain blood cultures, measure the patient's blood lactate levels and administer antibiotics within three hours of diagnosis. Hospitals should follow the same steps for patients with septic shock, plus take additional steps within six hours.

Loyola implemented its sepsis care quality improvement program in anticipation of the CMS three-hour and six-hour guidelines. Loyola's program includes education about the CMS guidelines; a sepsis early warning system in the electronic health records; the hiring of a sepsis coordinator; real-time physician feedback; and built-in features in the electronic health record system designed to improve adherence to the guidelines.

Loyola's program "may serve as a benchmark for other institutions to improve health outcomes and provide cost-effective care in patients with suspected infection or sepsis," Dr. Afshar and colleagues concluded.

Dr. Afshar is an assistant professor in Loyola Medicine's Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Loyola University Chicago's Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health. Co-authors of the study are Erum Arain, MD, Chen Ye, MD, Emily Gilbert, MD, Meng Xie, Josh Lee, MD, Matthew Churpek, MD, PhD, Ramon Durazo-Arvizu, PhD, Talar Markossian, PhD and Cara Joyce, PhD.

The study is titled "Patient Outcomes and Cost-Effectiveness of a Sepsis Care Quality Improvement Program in a Health System."

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.