In a recent report by Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, sepsis hospital admissions were detailed to have increased 89% from 2008 – 2016. The article below details the number of sepsis hospitalizations in the region, by county, per 10,000 adult residents in 2016.
Lehigh Valley Hospital Stays For Sepsis Way Up
By Binghui Huang
Published by The Morning Call, October 4th, 2017
The number of Lehigh Valley hospital admissions for sepsis, an increasingly prevalent life-threatening complication from infections, increased by 69 percent over eight years, according to a state report released Wednesday.
Despite the drastic increase, the Lehigh Valley still fared better than the state, which saw an 89 percent increase in hospital admissions for sepsis from 2008-2016, according to the report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
The rise likely is due to an aging population suffering from chronic illnesses, as well as more awareness of the condition and improved detection, said Joe Martin, executive director of the state agency.
“Appropriate management of chronically ill patients remains a challenge, as reflected in these increased sepsis numbers,” Martin said in a news release.
In 2016, sepsis hospital stays cost insurers and medical assistance programs about $1.69 billion, according to the council.
The Lehigh Valley’s two hospital networks have been working to reduce sepsis mortality rates by detecting symptoms earlier and training staff to respond quickly.
Regionally, Lehigh and Montgomery counties had the lowest sepsis rates in 2016, with 85.4 and 81.3 hospital admissions per 10,000 people respectively. Northampton and Berks counties fared the worst, with 133 and 124.7 hospital admissions per 10,000 people respectively. The statewide figure was 99.1. The rate was higher for those aged 65 and over, black and low-income residents. Demographic differences accounted for some of the disparity among counties, the report stated.
The rising rates reflect the state’s increasingly older population, said Matthew McCambridge, chief quality offficer at LVHN. And many hospitals have developed programs to reduce sepsis.
“It’s a big part of what we do,” McCambridge said.
Sepsis — the body’s reaction to an infection which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death — affects more than a million Americans every year and cases are rising, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 15 to 30 percent of people who get sepsis die.
The report found that the percentage of people who survive is on the rise. The statewide sepsis in-hospital mortality rate nearly halved from 2008 to 2016, when it was at 10.5 percent. And rates of readmission to the hospital within 30 days of the initial treatment dropped from about 1 out of every 4 sepsis patients to 1 out of every 5.
Those rates came down because of campaigns to detect and treat the infection, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines for treating sepsis in a timely manner, said Diana Tarone, a project manager at St. Luke’s University Health Network. The state report confirms that, she said.
In 2015, the latest year on file, all St. Luke’s hospital mortality rates for sepsis were below 10 percent, or better than expected, according to data compiled by the council. The network performed similarly in previous years. The mortality rates are measured against an expected rate based on the health of the population that goes to the hospital.
Lehigh Valley Health Network’s rates were 19 percent for the Cedar Crest and 17th Street locations, and 25 percent for Muhlenberg, which is about the expected rate. LVHN administrators said their mortality rates have improved in recent years. This month, the network received recognition from a national organization partly for their efforts to reduce sepsis rates.
The council is expected to release sepsis mortality rates of individual hospitals next month, Martin said.
Number of Sepsis hospitalizations in the region, by county, per 10,000 adult residents in 2016:
Source: Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
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