Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital have set a new national standard in reducing death from septic shock. By pioneering the implementation of stricter treatment guidelines, a patient’s chance of dying from sepsis and septic shock is reduced by an astounding 80%. The dramatic drop comes three years after Intermountain Healthcare made a goal of treating sepsis patients with a "bundle" of strategies by aggressively identifying patients with the potential for sepsis aggressively and treating them earlier and with more consistency.
Sepsis is a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria from an infection. Nearly 500,000 patients arrive in U.S. emergency departments each year with sepsis, which begins as an ordinary infection, such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection.
"With sepsis, the infection affects the whole person, the whole body. Systems begin to shut down and organs fail," says Dr. Todd Allen, lead researcher and emergency medicine physician at Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital. "Once that happens, the risk of death may be up to 50 percent or higher. Physicians have always struggled with sepsis, and once someone gets to the stage of septic shock, mortality rates are alarmingly high. But we've been able to reduce sepsis-related deaths to a ground-breaking, and remarkably low level.”
The "bundle" of strategies used by Intermountain include 11 elements that provide consistency in the early recognition and treatment of sepsis, including specialized blood testing, administration of antibiotics, fluids, and other medications, tight glucose control and protecting the lungs with a standardized ventilator strategy. The bundle was conceived in 2001 as part of a landmark study by another institution. In the years since then, hospital compliance across the country has been spotty, says Dr. Allen. "Intermountain is among the very first health systems to show huge improvements in a large hospital setting. We may lead the world in overall bundle compliance and survival rate.”