5 things every doctor should know about managing sepsis programs

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

Sepsis, a life-threatening condition triggered by the body's extreme response to an infection, demands swift recognition and intervention. As physicians navigate this intricate terrain, understanding the latest advancements and essential protocols is paramount. 

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About 1.7 million adults in the U.S. develop sepsis each year, and at least 350,000 die from sepsis annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To help, the CDC’s seven core elements offer a blueprint to hospitals for building and maintaining a successful sepsis program.

This information is available through a webinar series on the CDC’s Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements and helps physicians and health care facilities implement, monitor and optimize their sepsis programs and outcomes. This free continuing education webinar series was developed in collaboration with the AMA and CDC’s Project Firstline.

Read on to explore how physicians can address sepsis at their health care facility as told through five webinars in the series.

  1. Saving lives starts with leadership

    Physicians and other leaders at a Michigan health system had focused on improving its sepsis care with multiple quality improvement projects. But it was missing some of the foundational pieces to improve sepsis outcomes. By securing leadership commitment with financial resources and making sepsis an organizational priority, they were able to improve their outcomes.

  2. Accountability and teamwork matter

    Through accountability and teamwork measures, a New York health system has reduced sepsis metrics and nonrisk-adjusted mortality for septic shock by 50% over a five-year period. As of mid-2023, the health system achieved a 12% mortality rate. Learn more about why accountability for outcomes, and partnerships to improve them, are key. 

  3. Smarter screening and handoffs are needed

    Tackling sepsis calls for quick, efficient protocols. For Michael W. Fill, DO, emergency physician at Henry Ford Health in Jackson, Michigan, this meant empowering nurses in the emergency department to fast track the process on lactates. Leaders at Henry Ford Health detail how they are employing CDC advice to make sepsis management more efficient and safely discharge patients.

    Henry Ford Health is a member of the AMA Health System Program, which provides enterprise solutions to equip leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.

  4. Reduce length of stay with tracking and reporting

    Tracking and reporting various metrics ensure that hospitals are filling identified gaps and meeting goals of their sepsis-prevention programs. One way to identify these metrics is by forming an interdisciplinary sepsis core team. Learn how to reduce length of stay and sepsis mortality rates through coordinated reporting methods.

  5. Sepsis education for staff, patients and families is key

    Sepsis education plays a significant role throughout the health care continuum, from onboarding of new hires to discharging patients from the hospital. Education should include physicians, health care staff, patients, families and caregivers. From onboarding and yearly training to real-time feedback on cases, providing sepsis education is key to improving patient outcomes.

This webinar series is part of the AMA Ed Hub™, an online platform with high-quality CME and education that supports the professional development needs of physicians and other health professionals. With topics relevant to you, it also offers an easy, streamlined way to find, take, track and report educational activities.

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation.

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