Each year, at least 1.7 million adults in the U.S. develop sepsis, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection, and kills nearly 270,000 Americans annually.
On Feb. 5, Rockville Centre’s Mercy Medical Center, a member of Catholic Health Services, became the first hospital in New York to receive the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Sepsis Care.
“The Gold Seal is a powerful validation of the quality that reflects Mercy’s ongoing commitment to providing optimal, safe and effective patient care,” said Mercy Medical Center President Peter Scaminaci. “Sepsis is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical treatment, and I am so proud that Mercy is at the forefront of addressing this serious condition.”
Sepsis happens when an existing infection — in the skin, lungs, urinary tract or elsewhere — triggers a chain reaction throughout the body. Without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. In most cases, sepsis occurs before the patient is admitted to the hospital, underscoring the importance of sepsis education and awareness.
“Mercy recognizes the danger that sepsis presents from an overall public health standpoint,” said Catherine Magone, vice president of Performance Improvement. “We have integrated evidence-based clinical practices into the medical management of sepsis and reduced risk in the community by educating our clinical staff and the public about the illness.”
In 2014, Mercy formed a sepsis committee, comprising medical staff from various departments — quality managers, emergency, pharmacy, lab and nursing — to evaluate ways to improve the recognition, treatment and education of sepsis patients.
The team conducted evaluations and developed a Mercy Sepsis Program, an intensive and multidisciplinary education program for clinical staff and their patients and required clinical staff to participate annually.
The program also implemented rapid sepsis response calls; designed a nurse’s sepsis worksheet to improve communication between units and nurses; used electronic and medical records to support the sepsis bundle with early warnings and reminders built-in; and created an electronic sepsis screen where every patient, every day on every shift is screened for sepsis.
Additionally, the plan, according to Mercy officials, highlighted the importance of patient engagement, which encouraged and empowered patients to think, “Could this be sepsis?” even before being admitted to the hospital.
“Sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid recognition and treatment to improve patient survival,” said Dr. Kurt Dischner, Mercy Medical Center’s associate director of Emergency Medicine and co-chairman of the Sepsis Committee. “Lives can be saved by using existing and proven sepsis protocols.”
Last December, experts from the Joint Commission visited Mercy for an on-site review. Established in 2002 and awarded for a two-year period, The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Certification evaluates clinical programs and addresses three core areas: compliance with consensus-based national standards, effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care and an organized approach to performance measurement and improvement activities.
“Mercy Medical Center has thoroughly demonstrated a high level of care for patients with sepsis,” said Patrick Phelan, executive director of Hospital Business Development at the Joint Commission. “We commend Mercy for becoming a leader in sepsis care, potentially providing a higher standard of service for sepsis patients in its community.”