By Mike Abrams
Sepsis is the single most expensive condition to treat in the U.S. healthcare system at an annual cost of $24 billion. More than 258,000 people in the United States die annually from sepsis — far more than the number of U.S. deaths from prostate cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer combined.
In Ohio, 7,478 of the 38,487 patients treated in 2015 in Ohio hospitals for severe sepsis or septic shock died. We know early detection and early intervention with a very time-sensitive three-hour treatment bundle can save lives every day in our state.
The Ohio Hospital Association is taking the lead and launched a statewide campaign to reduce the incidence of severe sepsis and septic shock mortality in Ohio by 30 percent by 2018. Nine months into the initiative, Ohio hospitals have recorded a 9 percent reduction in mortality — or about 673 lives saved — through early recognition and early intervention.
To sustain this early progress, the OHA Board of Trustees asked the executive leadership of our 220 member hospitals to commit to making the fight against sepsis a key priority in their facilities.
Leading the Leaders
Through our board’s directive, we have asked our hospital leaders to commit to an early identification and intervention process for sepsis and to coordinate sepsis prevention across the care continuum. This pledge includes leadership and operational strategies.
Leadership strategies include hiring a dedicated sepsis coordinator, obtaining a disease-specific care certification and incorporating sepsis training into the onboarding process for all patient-care staff. Organizational strategies focus on making sepsis a part of employee annual reviews, action planning and sharing of best practices among providers.
These executive-level commitments compliment and reinforce established protocols for confirming the diagnosis, such as measuring lactate levels, obtaining blood cultures before antibiotic administration, treating low blood pressure, administering fluids and other proven strategies.
Leveraging the Power of Data
One important component to this initiative is refining data systems and reporting so hospitals can make better informed administrative and clinical decisions.
Implementation of ICD 10 codes has enhanced hospitals’ ability to track and set priorities for potential sepsis patients upon arrival at the hospital. This facilitates better tracking of data for the statewide initiative to provide comparative data for our member hospitals.
OHA helps members make sense of their data and shows how their hospital compares to peer facilities around the state. OHA’s data team uses a dashboard that displays an analysis of data submitted by each hospital or health system related to treatment bundles and each element within the bundle. OHA tracks outcomes, including mortality, inpatient length of stay and cost. Reports are provided quarterly to participating hospitals.
Beyond the impact on lives of the tens of thousands of Ohioans affected each year by sepsis, the impressive early results of the initiative show huge financial benefits for the state of Ohio and payers. OHA estimates accomplishing the 30 percent reduction goal will generate a savings of $150 million annually for Ohio Medicaid, including $40 million of the state’s share of the costs. Additionally, Medicare and commercial payers are projected to save $360 million.
We know 80 percent of sepsis cases arrive at the hospital door. In September, sepsis month, OHA will offer members the opportunity to join an effort to educate caregivers, first responders and long-term care facilities in the rapid recognition of the signs of sepsis. We’re calling it OHA SOS.
I commend hospital leaders who have made a commitment to reducing sepsis and sepsis mortality. I encourage everyone caring for patients to consider the strategies and tools they can use to propel sepsis reduction. Sepsis is a condition that everyone in the healthcare industry needs to be interested in and concerned about because working together we can save lives and make a true economic impact on our healthcare landscape.
Mike Abrams joined OHA in February 2012 as president and CEO. He leads a team of 65 associates, supports a 20-member Board of Trustees, serves on a variety of healthcare and hospital task forces and committees, and works with more than 2,000 members of seven OHA professional societies. Learn more at www.ohiohospitals.org