September is Sepsis Awareness Month
Greetings from the Northern Region. As I write this, it is the day after Labor Day, and fall has already begun here in Michigan. This is my annual reflection for September Sepsis Awareness Month, and as your Champions for Sepsis Chair, I would like to share a few thoughts. The year 2020 has been—and remains—a very challenging one for sepsis given the pandemic and the oncoming influenza season, from the temporary suspension of mandatory CMS reporting to the clinical complexity of treating a new viral sepsis with Sars CoV 2. Now is the time for us to evaluate the current status of each of our sepsis programs and identify what we can do as front-line providers and leaders to adjust and improve our programs in this ever-changing environment.

Our APP team as a whole has achieved outstanding sepsis reporting measures, whether it is CMS bundle compliance or sepsis mortality, and that is credit to the amazing talent that we have recruited to the team and our corporate oversight, leadership and support. I cannot overstate the complexity that the current pandemic has added to our daily practice and the management of sepsis at each of our contacted sites. We have been asked to do more with fewer resources, added a new disease process to the differential, and complicated the treatment options that we had previously hardwired. In spite of these challenges, we have been successful and have an amazing team!

APP's Sepsis Committee has been active throughout 2020, and we continue to educate and update the entire team through the Provider Portal as well as our Sepsis Pocket Card, which you should have received around the middle of the month. What a fantastic way to support your practice and management of this global medical killer. Please continue to take the time to lead and mentor your facilities and team members, whether new or experienced, in our sepsis program. We commit to continuing to provide you with the tools and support that you need to be successful. At the Support Center level, we continue to build our team of sepsis experts who are available to assist with any issue or question you may have.

As I leave you on this rainy, chilly Michigan morning, I wanted to share a few final requests:
  • Keep the focus on the patient and family. I cannot understate the impact that we have when caring for our acutely septic patients. A great deal of the time, the actual patient does not recall the care that we provide, but the family and friends remember. These patients are our spouses, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and sometimes our children, they all belong to a family. It is our gift to them to recognize early, treat efficiently, stabilize relentlessly and to do it compassionately. No matter which APP state they live in, no matter which APP hospital they present to, no matter which APP provider attends to them, our patients should receive the absolute best sepsis care for themselves and their family.

  • Remember your successes. I would also encourage everyone to reflect on that one sepsis case in your career when you saved someone's life. We all have that case that stays with us for life, and it may have been the reason that you chose a career in medicine. CELEBRATE THE WIN! We are all very talented providers that bring great depth and breadth to each of our practices. Our day-to-day practice is challenging enough, so share your story with a colleague or coworker and enjoy that awesome feeling once again.

  • Smile. Continue to do what you do, every day, with a smile. It is sometimes very difficult to stay positive with all the pressures that surround medicine these days. It is significantly easier to default to negativity, just like falling down a hill is easier than the climb. Take a few moments to reflect on where you are in your individual practice, identify the successes and look for the good in the team. Support them, praise them, and lead them. When you think about it, it'll make you smile. APP has an amazing team of providers. I am honored to be part of your team and thank you for allowing me to be your Sepsis Champion!

Written By Brad Blaker, DO, MBA, EMT-P, FACEP, FACOEP, FACHE

APP Champion for Sepsis Committee Chair
RMD, Northern Division - Greater Bay Region