Best Practices in Managing Sepsis (Part 1)

10/1/18 8:00 AM

Sepsis is a complicated disease that kills an American every two minutes. Here, we will address three strategies that can improve the way in which sepsis is diagnosed and treated.

Strategy 1: Education

Sepsis is difficult to diagnose, especially since early symptoms can be mistaken for other indications. However, by providing clinical staff and patients with the latest findings on sepsis care and conducting training seminars, sepsis diagnosis can be improved.

Educate Clinical Staff

  • Meetings with hospital staff to review sepsis definitions and guidelines. Review the systemic manifestations of sepsis and practice protocol.
  • Provide overview on communication methods to use during sepsis onset
  • Practice critical skills needed for effective sepsis management

Educate Patients

  • Teach patients to be aware of the risk factors: recent invasive procedures, breaks in skin, weak immune systems, and old age
  • Provide patients with an overview on preventative measures that can help them avoid sepsis: vaccinations, hygiene, hand washing, and avoiding sources of infections
  • Teach patients about symptoms of sepsis so they can also recognize it

Strategy 2: Infection Control Measures

Hospitals should also implement programs to ensure proper coordination among hospital staff and to establish rigorous sepsis protocols. One way to do this is by introducing hospitals to sepsis quality improvement programs. In these programs, invasive lines, surgical sites, wounds, and productive coughs must be continually assessed, and patients who are diagnosed with infections must be meticulously observed. Additionally, proper hygiene must be emphasized.

For the successful implementation of such a program, proper coordination among staff must exist. To do this, there should be sepsis leaders for each unit that support the staff and provide clear instructions on procedures. There should also be clinical teams that work under each leader and continually monitor data to provide results to the staff. There must also be procedures put in place to incentivize compliance for such a program.

Strategy 3: Diagnostic Tests

Adherence to current diagnostic tests can also aid the detection of sepsis. Sepsis is typically diagnosed with a particular scoring system and data from blood samples. There are also other tests that can be done to definitively diagnose sepsis and rule out other possible indications. Examples of such tests include complete blood count, white blood cell count, CT imaging studies and cardiac studies. (Learn more about Learn more about common diagnostic tests for sepsis and their pros and cons).

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