New Jersey Hospitals Collaborate to Save Lives in First Year of Sepsis Work


Through an innovative Sepsis Learning and Action Collaborative, hospitals across New Jersey implemented life-saving sepsis detection and care tools, resulting in nearly 400 lives saved in one year of targeted action.

"Under this collaborative model, New Jersey hospitals come together to learn from industry experts, adopt best practices and share their results and lessons learned – and it works," said Betsy Ryan, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association. "Our hospitals have successfully reduced sepsis rates and mortality, improved care for patients and reduced healthcare costs."
Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction by the body to infection. Because symptoms resemble the flu or other common illnesses, sepsis is difficult to detect and difficult to treat in advanced stages. Sepsis is among the top four most expensive conditions for hospitals, according to research from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project and the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. More than 1.1 million people in the United States were diagnosed with septicemia in 2008, with a mortality rate between 28-50 percent of severe sepsis patients.

To combat the costly effects of sepsis, the New Jersey Hospital Association, through its Health Research and Educational Trust and its Institute for Quality and Patient Safety, called on the state's hospitals to join a sepsis improvement effort designed around best practices and evidence-based protocols. Beginning in late 2014, member hospitals voluntarily reported sepsis data to NJHA, as well as participated in peer-to-peer learning through webinars, in-person sessions and expert presentations. They also adopted standardized screening tools and a "bundle" of treatments as best practices in their facilities.

A report on the first year of the Collaborative showed New Jersey hospitals:
•Reduced severe sepsis mortality by 10.76 percent,
•Increased the use of a hospital-wide sepsis screening tool from 20 percent to 70 percent,
•Increased adoption of a hospital-wide sepsis protocol from 40 percent to 90 percent, and
•Improved compliance with the three-hour bundle of treatments for sepsis – a nationally recognized best practice – by 47 percent.

These results translate into roughly 400 lives saved between December 2014 and December 2015. The ultimate goal of the collaborative is to reduce severe sepsis mortality in New Jersey by 20 percent, potentially saving more than 1,200 lives.

"Our members have worked incredibly hard to make these changes, and it is so rewarding to see these positive results," said Dr. Aline Holmes, RN, MSN, DNP, senior vice president of clinical affairs at NJHA. "We realize there is still room for progress in sepsis detection and care and already launched our second year of improvement efforts."

Continuing its work, there are several specific goals of the collaborative for its second year. They include:
•Additional focus on bundle implementation and government reimbursement ramifications;
•Identifying vulnerabilities for and reducing frequency of sepsis-related readmissions; and
•Shaping sepsis screening and treatment for the pediatric setting.

The report is available on the NJHA web site at

As part of World Sepsis Day, observed Sept. 13, NJHA is hosting a Twitter chat from 3 to 4 p.m. with Shannon Davila, RN, MSN, formerly NJHA's clinical quality improvement manager and now the clinical content development lead for the Health Research and Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association. Davila won a "Hero of Infection Prevention" award from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology for her work on behalf of NJHA. Anyone with questions about the report or sepsis in general can join the chat by tweeting @NJHospitals using the hashtag #SepsisDayNJ.

Source: New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA)

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