Each year nearly 750,000 Americans acquire sepsis—a runaway immune response to infection, and the #1 cause of death in U.S. hospitals. Most people develop the condition before seeking help, so rapid diagnosis and treatment are key. But sepsis is unpredictable, its symptoms are generic, and treatment is complex. So just half of patients who develop septic shock—the most severe form—get effective treatment within those first critical hours.
TPMG physicians have been helping to define the national discourse on sepsis care since 2008. In partnership with Kaiser Permanente Northern California, we created the Saving Lives Through Better Sepsis Care initiative. Together we focused on early detection and rapid treatment within the first 6 hours after a patient arrives at the hospital—a strategy that requires comprehensive training; an integrated electronic health record system; and coordinated care among emergency departments, operating rooms and intensive care units.
The program was so effective that it contributed to a 35% decline in the mortality rate for our patients with severe sepsis between 2009 and 2012. Today protocols are in place at every Kaiser Permanente hospital in the United States, and we’re sharing these best practices with other hospitals and public health organizations.