Being diagnosed with sepsis can be particularly troubling to you and your family because the condition is so serious. However, you can take comfort in the fact that most people with sepsis are already in the hospital, where they can receive the treatment they need.
Many people forget to look for signs of sepsis until it’s happening. But in the Sutter Health network, we’ve made a focused effort to prevent, spot and treat sepsis before it progresses. Sepsis is a serious bloodstream infection where the body’s bloodstream is overwhelmed with bacteria. The body responds to the infection with inflammation, the combination of which can be deadly.
Sepsis is particularly dangerous because it can be hard to detect and may come on suddenly. In 2014, Sutter Health launched its Sepsis Initiative to reduce the number of people who come down with this condition. As part of the initiative, experts in the Sutter Health network have created specific protocols for treating sepsis in the first six hours, the most critical time for the condition. For instance, nurses now have tools that prompt them to screen people for sepsis, and sepsis cases are more quickly escalated so the right medical experts can see the person as soon as possible.
We also held a sepsis summit where teams focused on the strategies for early detection and treatment. The summit led to teams establishing sepsis task forces at their own hospitals.
Today, sepsis cases across Sutter Health have declined by 33 percent, saving an estimated 500 lives since 2014.
Early signs of sepsis include fever, a heart rate of over 90 beats per minute and a high rate of breathing. As the condition progresses, you can have trouble breathing, abdominal pain and changes in mental status.
Care teams closely monitor people with sepsis, often in critical care units, and adjust treatment to each person’s specific needs.