Sepsis is a major problem in U.S. hospitals and not enough patients fully understand the danger.
U.S. health officials are doing what they can to help with the fight. The CDC recently released its Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements to give providers a clear plan for treating sepsis patients. Last month, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) added the Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock Early Management Bundle to a purchasing program.
According to Baxter, this will incentivize high-quality sepsis care and help ensure that hospitals follow evidence-based guidelines that benefit patients, since hospitals’ payments will be tied to not just reporting, but to performance in accordance with the SEP-1 processes. The company stressed that proper fluid management is a key part of these guidelines. The company said more than 80% of hospitalized patients receive IV fluids and it’s been proven that proper fluid management may improve clinical outcomes for sepsis patients.
With September serving as Sepsis Awareness Month, Medical Design & Development spoke with Angela Craig MS, APN, CCNS, CCRN-K, who works as one of Baxter’s ICU nurses, to get a better idea of how big the problem is and what is being done to manage it.
MDD: How big of a problem is sepsis in U.S. hospitals?
Angela Craig: Sepsis is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals, yet at the same time, an estimated 35% of U.S. adults have never heard of sepsis. The burden is not only on sepsis patients, as they usually have a longer hospital stay, are more likely to be on a ventilator and have a higher mortality rate overall, but it’s also the most expensive reason for hospitalization costing more than $20B annually in the U.S.?
MDD: How can fluid management help with treatment of sepsis?
Craig: Correct fluid management can be the difference between life and death. IV fluids are drugs, and one of their uses is to help increase cardiac output - the combination of your heartbeats per minute and the amount of blood pumped with each beat – which potentially helps improve oxygen delivery to the cells. We know that too much fluid can lead to tissue swelling (edema) and organ failure. On the other hand, too little fluid can lead to tissue shock from lack of oxygen (hypoperfusion) and organ failure. This is why fluid management is such a critical element in the treatment of sepsis.
MDD: What does fluid management look like for a sepsis patient?
Craig: Antibiotics paired with IV fluids are often the first step in treating sepsis patients. When a patient receives fluids, it offers healthcare providers the opportunity to assess the patient’s response and understand if they are responding well to the fluids. If they are not, it’s an indication that we might need to give a drug or other agent that will help improve the passage of blood, also known as perfusion.
MDD: What are Baxter's priorities for enhancing its fluid management monitoring systems?
Craig: Our number one goal is to save and sustain lives. For sepsis, that comes to life by bringing awareness to the condition and the critical role that fluid management plays in early detection and management for healthcare providers and patients.