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Sepsis Initiative at Western Maryland Health System

(CUMBERLAND, M.D. – 2017) Western Maryland Health System (WMHS) in Cumberland has been able to reduce sepsis mortality for its patients by implementing processes for the early identification of sepsis and adherence to recommended treatment. Sepsis is a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

The project evolved from expanding protocols in the Emergency Department to a system-wide program to promote a cohesive culture of safety. To assist with early identification of sepsis, electronic screening tools were developed for use in the Emergency Department and on the inpatient units.

Another key component was empowering the nursing staff with the autonomy to initiate key components of the sepsis “bundle.” Bundles are prescribed steps for care that when implemented as a group, have a better effect on outcomes than each one being implemented individually.

Once sepsis is identified, aggressive treatment begins quickly. A team of nurses specially trained in sepsis cares serves as a resource for providers and nursing staff in providing effective treatment.

Education about sepsis identification and treatment is provided regularly for healthcare professionals, and community education about the warning signs of sepsis has improved awareness for early intervention.