Sepsis on Prime Time TV – Irish National Broadcaster Airs Segment On Sepsis In Ireland

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Here’s a link to RTE’s Prime Time Show about sepsis. Sepsis kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined, but most members of the general public don’t know what sepsis is. The program, from Ireland, features a very emotional interview with a young girl who survived sepsis, a conversation with Ciaran Staunton from the Rory Staunton Foundation and interviews with leading sepsis medical professionals including Professor Steve Kerrigan and Professor Ger Curley from the Royal College of Surgeons.

A record number of people in Ireland viewed the program and heard for the first time the alarming statistic that 72% of Irish people do not have an accurate understanding of sepsis.

To watch the full Prime Time segment on sepsis, please click here and choose the WATCH: SEPSIS option.

Pennsylvania Health Care Report: 89% Increase in Hospital Admissions for Sepsis 2008-2016

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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.

To reduce sepsis mortality rates, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued national standards two years ago.

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:

Monroe 74.4

Montgomery 81.3

Lehigh 85.4

Bucks 103.2

Carbon 114.8

Schuylkill 119.6

Berks 124.7

Northampton 133

Source: Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.



To read the original article, please click here.

Rory Staunton Foundation at the Forefront of Making New Jersey Safe from Sepsis!

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After a three-year campaign by residents, including sepsis survivor Nicole Taylor and her family, and the Rory Staunton Foundation, New Jersey  Mandatory Sepsis Protocols Should Make Their Way to ALL New Jersey hospitals!
But we’re not there yet…
Public comment on the proposed rule change has closed and thank you all for referencing our advice!
“I want mandatory, life-saving sepsis protocols in New Jersey hospitals!”  “Proposed New Rule: N.J.A.C. 8:43G-14.9/Hospital Licensing Standards – Infection Control: Sepsis Protocols”
…Yes, there are hospitals in NJ that have sepsis protocols in place, but not every hospital. what if you or your loved ones go to a hospital that doesn’t follow sepsis protocols?
We can NOT allow “choosing the right hospital” to determine life or death with regards to sepsis!
We appreciate the work of Commissioner Bennett and hope that you encourage her to implement these protocols immediately to start saving lives. ALL New Jersey residents deserve life-saving sepsis protocols in ALL hospitals – NOW!
Join us in making New Jersey SAFE FROM SEPSIS!

WESA PA NPR News Station: Pitt Researchers Say States Should Develop Policies To Fight Sepsis

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By Kathleen J. Davis
Published by WESA Pittsburg’s NPR News Station, September 8, 2017

Sepsis is the leading cause of hospital deaths in the country, killing 250,000 Americans each year. The bacterial infection, colloquially known as “blood poisoning,” can be caused by contamination in a hospital setting, and in deadly situations results in organ failure.

A research team at the University of Pittsburgh has received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to study sepsis in hospitals for the next four years. The team will look at data from New York hospitals to figure out what kinds of state policies work when it comes to preventing and treating sepsis. That means strategies like administering early antibiotics and controlling the source of infection in the hospital.

Jeremy Kahn, part of the research team, says mistakes can happen when treating sepsis in hospitals.

“When that happens, there’s a role for health policy makers to step in and create health policies that incentivize physicians to do a better job,” he said.

Many states, including Pennsylvania, have no sepsis-related rules on the books, meaning strategies for combating the infection can vary from hospital to hospital. New York implemented “Rory’s Regulations” across the state in 2013, requiring all hospitals to follow a set of proven protocols in a case of sepsis. The law was named after a 12-year-old boy who died of the infection in a New York hospital after scraping his arm at school.

Rory’s Regulations also require hospitals to disclose all sepsis-related data to the state, which is why the research team is looking at their data to figure out what kinds of state policies work when it comes to preventing and treating sepsis.

Kahn says policy makers in Harrisburg have been developing a sepsis policy for about a year, which will ultimately require all Pennsylvania hospitals to adopt protocols for sepsis recognition and sepsis treatment.

First-In-The Nation Sepsis Prevention Curriculum Materials Now Available To Teachers

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Rory is making history again – New York Schools will teach back-to-basics education for treating wounds, will educate regarding infection and teach lifesaving lessons about sepsis.

Read the New York State Education Department press release here.

Sepsis Awareness Video Released By The Centers For Disease Control

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The Center For Disease Control has just released a video on sepsis as part of a nationwide sepsis awareness campaign. The video outlines the domino effect of sepsis and the importance of speedy medical intervention.

Rory Staunton Foundation and Patient Safety Movement Join Forces for Sepsis Prevention

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August 1, 2017, the Rory Staunton Foundation and the Patient Safety Movement Foundation joined forces in Vermont to discuss the implementation of mandatory sepsis protocols.

Rory Staunton Foundation Co-Founder, Ciaran Staunton, and Regional Chairs/Volunteers Mari Miceli and Georgi D’Alessandro of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation met with Vermont Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine, and the Vermont State Epidemiologist for Infectious Disease, Dr. Patsy Tassler Kelso, to urge the implementation of Rory’s Regulations in all Vermont hospitals.

In May 2017, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) confirmed that Rory’s Regulations in New York State hospitals are saving lives. We thank the Commissioner and Dr. Patsy Tassler Kelso for their attention to this urgent health issue and look forward to helping Vermont become the next “sepsis safe” state.

NEJM: Recognizing Sepsis as a Global Health Priority — A WHO Resolution

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By Konrad Reinhart, M.D., Ron Daniels, M.D., Niranjan Kissoon, M.D., Flavia R. Machado, M.D., Ph.D., Raymond D. Schachter, L.L.B., and Simon Finfer, M.D.
Published by New England Journal of Medicine, August 03, 2017 |

“Some very important clinical issues, some of them affecting life and death, stay largely in a backwater which is inhabited by academics and professionals and enthusiasts, dealt with very well at the clinical and scientific level but not visible to the public, political leaders, leaders of healthcare systems. . . . The public and political space is the space in which [sepsis] needs to be in order for things to change.”

So said Sir Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer for England and the current World Health Organization (WHO) envoy for patient safety, on May 24, 2017.1 Two days later, the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body, adopted a resolution on improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of sepsis.2

The term “sepsis” dates back to at least the time of Hippocrates, who considered it the process by which flesh rots and wounds fester. More recently, it has been defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction resulting from infection. Despite this long history, sepsis has existed in the backwater described by Donaldson, and as a result innumerable patients around the world have died prematurely or faced long-term disability. This toll of unnecessary suffering drove Germany, with the unanimous support of the WHO executive board and at the urging of the Global Sepsis Alliance (GSA), to propose the resolution adopted by the WHA. The resolution urges member states and the WHO director general to take specific actions to reduce the burden of sepsis through improved prevention, diagnosis, and management (see table).

The true burden of disease arising from sepsis remains unknown. The current estimates of 30 million episodes and 6 million deaths per year come from a systematic review that extrapolated from published national or local population estimates to the global population.3 The likelihood that the result was a significant underestimate was recognized by the authors, who could find no data from the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where 87% of the world’s population lives. Thus, their estimate is based on data on hospital-treated sepsis in high-income countries. This lack of data is compounded by the fact that sepsis is treated as a “garbage code” in the Global Burden of Disease statistics, where most deaths due to sepsis are classified as being caused by the underlying infection. Improving the coding of sepsis and establishing a proper accounting in those statistics are essential steps envisaged by the WHA.

The resolution also calls for health care workers to increase awareness of sepsis by using the term “sepsis” in communication with patients, relatives, and other parties.4 National surveys consistently report low community awareness of sepsis, its signs and symptoms, its causes, and its toll of death and disability. In Australia, only 40% of surveyed people had heard of sepsis and only 14% could name one of its signs. In Brazil, the figures are even lower, with 7% of surveyed people aware in 2014 and 14% in 2017. In the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, high-profile campaigns have proven effective and increased awareness to 55%, 62%, and 69%, respectively.

Ensuring greater awareness on the part of both the public and health care workers is a crucial step in reducing the global burden of sepsis. Approximately 70% of sepsis cases are community-acquired, and since treatment with appropriate antibiotics must begin early to be effective, educating people about seeking treatment without delay is key to preventing unnecessary deaths and disability. The progression from infection to sepsis can be insidious and is unpredictable. Although populations such as the very young, the very old, and the immunosuppressed are known to be at high risk and should be targeted for education, sepsis can affect anyone at any time, which means that national public awareness programs are needed.

Awareness programs should also teach health care workers both to recognize sepsis and to understand it as a true time-critical medical emergency. Government reports and individual patient stories consistently identify delayed treatment as a major cause of preventable death and disability.5 Encouraging patients, relatives, and health care workers to ask “Could this be sepsis?” saves lives.

Clear treatment guidelines and performance targets tailored to local environments and available resources are also essential. Effective examples of this approach that have reduced mortality can serve as templates to be adapted for local conditions and use; these include “Rory’s Regulations” in New York State, the “Sepsis Kills” program in New South Wales, Australia, the National Health Services’ commissioning levers in England, and a multifaceted education program in Brazil.

Promulgation of comprehensive treatment guidelines such as those developed by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign has been associated with reduced mortality in high-income countries, but guidelines written for and by clinicians in these countries may not be applicable in the LMICs that bear most of the sepsis burden. Context-specific guidelines or modification of current guidelines for individual LMICs will be most effective if the guideline process is led by local clinicians and policymakers; the resolution envisages the WHO, in collaboration with others, playing a role in the development and promulgation of such guidelines. In addition, attention to bolstering public health initiatives to prevent sepsis, surveillance systems for detecting outbreaks early, and provision of simple early treatment can help to counterbalance the effects of a lack of critical care facilities in many LMICs.

The WHO resolution recognizes the perceived conflict between rapid administration of antibiotics to treat sepsis and efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance. Global efforts to reduce the burden of sepsis must go hand in hand with measures to minimize antimicrobial resistance and be consistent with the WHO-approved Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. However, sepsis is the condition that is most appropriate to treat empirically with broad-spectrum antibiotics, with rapid deescalation based on identification of the causative organisms.

Progress toward the GSA’s vision of “a world free of sepsis” also requires recognition of the key role of prevention. Prevention of infection and resultant sepsis through vaccination; access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in homes, schools, and health care facilities; clean childbirth and surgical practices; and hand hygiene in health care facilities is already the focus of WHO programs. The new resolution on sepsis supports and reinforces these programs.

Increased awareness, early presentation to a health care facility or early recognition of health care–associated sepsis, rapid administration of appropriate antibiotics, and urgent treatment according to locally developed guidelines can significantly reduce deaths from sepsis. Since such measures have reduced case fatality rates in high-income countries, however, the substantial burden carried by survivors of sepsis has become clearer. The sequelae of sepsis can include clinically significant physical, cognitive, and psychological disability that often goes unrecognized and untreated. In LMICs, postdischarge mortality after sepsis is about the same as sepsis-related mortality in the hospital, and perinatal sepsis poses great and ongoing risks for both mother and infant. Yet around the world, coordinated services for sepsis survivors are virtually nonexistent.

The WHA resolution, with its implicit recognition of sepsis as a major threat to patient safety and global health, has the potential to save millions of lives. To realize this potential, the actions proposed in the resolution need to be taken. These actions require coordinated efforts by politicians, policymakers, health care administrators, researchers, and clinicians working with people of all ages in all health care settings and in the community. Actions will vary by region and country and must acknowledge the unique challenges faced by LMICs.

To read the original article on, please click here.

Disclosure forms provided by the authors are available at
This article was published on June 28, 2017, at
Source Information
From Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany (K.R.); the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, United Kingdom (R.D.); the Department of Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Critical Care, University of British Columbia (N.K.), and Synergy Business Lawyers (R.D.S.) — both in Vancouver, Canada; the Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Intensive Care Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo (F.R.M.); and the George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney (S.F.). The authors constitute the Executive Board of the Global Sepsis Alliance.



Bloomberg: America Has a $27 Billion Sepsis Crisis

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By John Tozzi
Published by Bloomberg, July 14, 2017, 4:00 AM EDT |

Sepsis—a frequently lethal condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own organs while trying to fight off infection—is the top killer in U.S. hospitals, and the country has only recently begun to understand the scope of the problem.

A new government report suggests that sepsis cases tripled in the decade from 2005 to 2014, causing 1.5 million hospital stays by the end of that period. That’s alarming, but it may be misleading, too. Experts who study sepsis say the apparent increase is actually a reflection of how doctors are getting better at identifying cases they used to miss.

The medical world “is actually recognizing a much more common condition than we realized in the past was actually there,” says Greg Martin, a critical-care doctor and professor at Emory University School of Medicine who studies sepsis.

Sepsis is a fast-moving illness that occurs when the body’s own attempt to defeat an outside infection damages tissues and organs. There’s no single test to diagnose it—doctors must piece together a combination of symptoms and biological signals. It can make the heart race, cause trouble breathing, give patients fever or chills, and cause extreme pain. It’s more likely to occur in older people and those with other illnesses. It may play a role in up to half of all hospital deaths.

Saving patients from sepsis, sometimes called septicemia or septic shock, depends on quickly getting them antibiotics, fluids, and other measures to stabilize them. New York State recently issued rules requiring hospitals to follow treatment guidelines after the high profile sepsis death of a 12-year-old boy whose diagnosis doctors initially missed. Other states may follow.

The recent attention is understandable. A federal tally of hospital billing data shows a dramatic and steady rise in sepsis cases. A new brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal agency that studies clinical practices, found that sepsis was the most common reason for hospital stays, with the exception of pregnancy and childbirth. Treating it cost $27 billion in 2014, or about $18,000 per case.

But relying on hospital discharge data, which describe how hospitals bill for patient visits, may elide the true trends in disease rates. “Coding doesn’t always match what’s really happening,” Martin, the Emory University professor, says.

Research presented at a conference in May and funded by the Centers for Disease Control used clinical data from digital health records at 412 hospitals to estimate how common sepsis is nationally. That analysis came up with a similar number to the new federal report: About 1.67 million cases in 2014. It also found that the number has been stable since 2009. In other words, the same number of sepsis cases may have been there all along.

The difference now seems to be that doctors are getting better at spotting it, hence the upward tick in hospital coding.

“There’s a large focus on increasing awareness of sepsis,” says Chris Seymour, an assistant professor of critical care and emergency medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The hope is that by alerting the public as well as general practitioners and other people who treat simple infections, that we can educate them about the signs and symptoms,” he says.

Sepsis payments can be more than three times the fees for pneumonia, an infection that frequently precedes sepsis.
Hospitals also have incentives to record sepsis cases that may have previously been attributed to other diagnoses. Doing so can make them look better on federal measures of hospital quality and increase reimbursements, Emory’s Martin says. Sepsis payments can be more than three times the fees for pneumonia, an infection that frequently precedes sepsis, he says.

The same federal data that shows sepsis cases tripling in a decade also shows hospital stays for pneumonia dropping by one-third in the same period. If doctors are getting better at identifying sepsis, and hospitals have an incentive to bill for it, that could explain why a patient who got a diagnosis of pneumonia in 2005 might be considered a case of sepsis ten years later.

Still, the steady upward march of hospital visits attributed to sepsis suggests there is some true increase underlying the numbers, says Anne Elixhauser, a senior research scientist with the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, who co-authored the report. When a change is simply related to coding or reimbursement, the increase is typically a more sudden, single-year jump, not a decades-long trend.

True sepsis rates are rising partly because the population is aging, says Steven Simpson, director of pulmonary and critical care at University of Kansas Medical Center. Medicine is also getting better at keeping alive people with serious illnesses, such as organ recipients, cancer patients, and those  with autoimmune conditions like HIV—all more susceptible to sepsis. And people without health insurance or access to care may delay treatment for a lesser infection until it becomes more severe.

“Sepsis has been growing, growing, growing for a long time,” Simspon says.

The increasing problem of antibiotic resistant superbugs that render medicines impotent may also play a small role in rising sepsis cases, he says, but it’s not driving the trend. As resistant organisms become more common, however, the danger is likely to increase. “If you have an infection and you are treated with an ineffective antibiotic, you are more likely to develop sepsis,” Simpson says. “Sepsis is what we save our antibiotics for.”
Read the original article on Bloomberg here.

Breaking News: New Jersey Next for Mandatory Sepsis Protocols!

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Rory Staunton Foundation welcomes New Jersey State Health Commissioner’s announcement on the implementation of mandatory sepsis protocols!

Following a number of meetings with Commissioner Bennett and her staff over the past few years we welcome the Commissioner’s statement “while sepsis protocols have been an increasing focus of New Jersey hospitals, we know early identification and prompt treatment of sepsis is critical to survival. Every minute counts.” Today we thank the Commissioner for her action on changing regulations so that sepsis protocols will become mandatory in New Jersey.

Last December one of our delegations included New Jersey resident and sepsis survivor and National Family Council member Nicole Taylor who told her story of near death from sepsis, Nicole along with her family and others have been working furiously to secure mandatory protocols in the State.

The regulations are open to public comment from now until August 18th.

Read the NJ Spotlight article here