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CDC launches new effort to combat ‘silent killer’ sepsis

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a new program aimed a reducing sepsis deaths in hospitals.

In a typical year, one in three patients who die in a hospital had sepsis during their time in the hospital. Sepsis is the body’s unchecked inflammatory response to an infection. It is a life-threatening condition that requires quick medical care to prevent tissue damage, organ damage and death, according to the CDC.

“Sepsis is taking too many lives,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen said in a statement. “Rapid diagnosis and immediate appropriate treatment, including antibiotics, are essential to saving lives, yet the challenges of awareness about and recognition of sepsis are enormous.”

The CDC is calling on hospitals to have a sepsis program and improve sepsis care, she said.

In a typical year, at least 1.7 million adults in America develop sepsis and at least 350,000 adults who develop sepsis die during their hospitalization or are moved into hospice care, according to the CDC.

The CDC is launching the Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements to support hospitals in making sure teams and resources are in place to quickly identify sepsis and save more lives. The program is intended to help hospitals implement, monitor and optimize sepsis programs and improve survival rates. CDC’s latest survey of 5,221 hospitals found 73% report having sepsis teams while 55% report that team leaders are provided with dedicated time to manage sepsis programs.

The program, designed for all hospitals regardless of size, includes seven elements:

Leadership Commitment: Dedicating the necessary human, financial, and information technology resources.Accountability: Appointing a leader responsible for program outcomes and setting concrete program goals.Multi-professional expertise: Engaging key partners throughout the organization.Action: Implementing structures and processes to improve the identification of, management of, and recovery from sepsis.Tracking: Measuring sepsis epidemiology, outcomes, progress toward program goals, and the impact of sepsis initiatives.Reporting: Providing usable information on sepsis treatment and outcomes to relevant partners.Education: Providing sepsis education to healthcare professionals during onboarding and annually.

“CDC’s Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements are a guide for structuring sepsis programs that put your healthcare providers in the best position to rapidly identify and provide effective care for all types of patients with sepsis,” CDC medical advisor Dr. Raymund Dantes said in a statement. “The seven elements complement clinical guidelines by describing the leadership, expertise, tracking, education, and other elements that can be implemented in a wide variety of hospitals to improve the quality of sepsis care.”

Dr. Chris DeRienzo, the American Hospital Association’s chief physician executive, said the CDC’s plan will help hospitals.

“I’ve seen firsthand how committed hospitals and health systems are to improving patient safety and reducing sepsis,” DeRienzo said in a statement. “Sepsis is a complex disease and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing, identifying, treating and measuring it in hospitals. That’s why CDC’s Sepsis Core Elements offer a broad scaffolding for hospitals to build the program they need to best support their own communities.”

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