Common sites of infection include the kidneys, lungs, skin, bowels, liver and gall bladder. Sepsis can lead to widespread inflammation and blood clotting. Inflammation may result in redness, heat, swelling, pain, and organ dysfunction or failure. Blood clotting and low blood pressure during sepsis causes reduced blood flow to limbs and vital organs, and can lead to organ failure or gangrene (damage to tissues). Of the 900,000 people in the U.S. that contract sepsis each year, 26% of them die. Terrifyingly, your chances of dying in the hospital from sepsis is about four times higher than the risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke.
The most serious types of sepsis are severe sepsis and septic shock.
Sepsis Treatment Goals: The "Surviving Sepsis" Campaign
Despite the severity of the condition, there are distinct opportunities to improve the management of sepsis. Advancements can be made by identifying patients earlier in the process of their care through the use of internationally-acknowledged definitions, treating patients with the most appropriate medication and adopting uniform standards of care.
Addressing the need for the better treatment of sepsis, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign was launched in 2004 as a global campaign to reduce mortality rates in severe sepsis by 25% in five years. Originally sponsored by 11 international professional organizations, it is now supported by 14 organizations.
Intrinsic components of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign are several evidence-based recommendations which, taken together, will substantially reduce mortality due to severe sepsis and septic shock.
Within Cottage Health System, the pivotal guidelines identified by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign in the fight against sepsis have laid the groundwork for the creation of the "Slay Sepsis Protocol," which was first implemented in 2005 and continually refined since then.
Components of the "Slay Sepsis Protocol":
- ED Sepsis Pathway: Early identification of patients likely to have sepsis, and sending appropriate lab and X-ray tests to make the diagnosis of sepsis and its likely source.
- Initiating rapid fluid resuscitation.
- Rapid administration of appropriate antibiotics after blood cultures drawn.
- Calling the Sepsis Team to continue the six-hour resuscitation efforts and further manage patients using evidence-based guidelines in the ICU.
Using these elements as a goal, and having a coordinated, multi-disciplinary approach to rapidly identify and aggressively treat septic patients can radically reduce mortality. Because of the Slay Sepsis Protocol, the chance of dying of severe sepsis or septic shock at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is half of what it was five years ago.