Four years ago, I received a call at work that my father, age 89, was rushed to the emergency department with a high fever and delirium. That was a Thursday. Friday he was finally admitted and diagnosed with sepsis. Monday he was transferred to the local hospice because his systems were failing. Thursday, we attended his funeral.

Disclaimer—I’ve spent 25 years on the business side of healthcare. I am not a clinician, but I do read the literature. I know that sepsis can be treatable if caught early enough and aggressively treated. I look back on this experience with a lot of “what ifs:” What if my family recognized the severity of his fever and got him to the ED sooner? What if the floors weren’t backed up and he didn’t have to wait so long to be admitted? What if there had been room for him in the ICU once admitted? And what if the hospital had adopted a standard, evidence-based protocol for identifying and treating sepsis the moment it came in the door? 

Fast forward four years later, and there have been a number of significant advances in the development and adoption of sepsis treatment. One of the things that sets APP apart from other groups is its unwavering focus on excellence in patient care. Dr. Briningstool and his team have done a fabulous job launching a number of advanced quality strategies, including safer opioid prescribing, recognition of stroke, and champions for sepsis. 

Dr. Brad Blaker, Chairman of APP’s Sepsis Committee, presented an excellent overview of the committee’s work and treatment updates on the June 13, 2018, Medical Director Leadership Huddle webinar and again at the 2019 Leadership Conference. He highlights the following keys to success in any sepsis program:

  • Identification of a Sepsis Champion
  • Coordination with your hospital’s Quality Department
  • Physician/staff education and early identification process
  • 3- and 6-hour bundle signage and checklist/EMR
  • Defined patient handoff and documentation of diagnosis & next steps
  • Closing the loop—specific feedback on the missed opportunities

APP’s Sepsis Committee is continually enhancing the sepsis toolkit items that are available to our provider teams. The only thing worse than a hospital not having the protocols and guidelines in place, as my family experienced, would be to have the resources in place and not use them. I only wish my father were being treated today by an APP physician.