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Tuesday, November 30, 2021 1:00 PM

Fall Exchange Recap: The Importance of Monitoring and Managing Sepsis

Written by David McVeigh, Product Manager, SmartBoard Solutions

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The World Health Organization recently conducted its first global report on sepsis, finding that sepsis causes one in five deaths worldwide. Sepsis has a higher yearly mortality rate than AIDS, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, yet very few people outside of healthcare are aware of this condition. Additionally, sepsis contributes to nearly half of all hospital deaths in the U.S and is responsible for a total of approximately $7.2 billion of Medicare payments to hospitals.

What’s more alarming is that sepsis is treatable, and as many as 80 percent of sepsis deaths can be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. The main factor that stands in the way is simply the lack of knowledge.

During our recent Fall Exchange, David McVeigh of iatricSystems and Sally Arnette of Licking Memorial Hospital came together to help educate attendees on how they can monitor and manage sepsis to ultimately saves lives. Read on for a quick recap of the session highlights, or you can watch the full session on-demand.

Spotting early recognition leads to prevention 

The onset of sepsis is subtle and often difficult to recognize because the signs and symptoms of sepsis look very similar to other conditions. But with better education and awareness, you can save lives. Here’s what the CDC says caregivers should look out for in their patients:

  • Shivering, fever or very cold
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Short of breath
  • High heart rate

Delivering urgent attention and rapid treatment 

As you know, sepsis progresses rapidly, and you must act fast. The CMS Sepsis Bundle was created to improve the care that clinicians provide to their sepsis patients. This included a clear outline of the actions they needed to take within three hours of severe sepsis/septic shock identification and the tasks that needed to happen with six hours of identification.

How Licking Memorial Hospital decreased sepsis mortality rate

Licking Memorial Hospital has had one of the most successful cases of tracking and scoring sepsis to lower the mortality rate at their hospital. Sally Arnette, VP of Information Systems at Licking Memorial Hospital, shared with us their top five key IT sepsis initiatives:

  1. Developed standardized clinical workflows and documentation with CPOE enabled sepsis-specific order set for physicians, including a standardized physician documentation and sepsis progress note.
  2. Improved sepsis identification using MEDITECH EHR by building upon existing functionality and using a tailored sepsis identification algorithm to generate notifications for possible sepsis.
  3. Implemented a sepsis surveillance system with iatricSystems SmartBoard Vision for an at-a-glance look of their patients’ current conditions and color-coded by risk and includes physician documentation of infection or suspicion of sepsis.
  4. Facilitated real-time communication of critical alerts with HIPAA compliance secure texting, which integrated with SmartBoard Vision to give physicians all the information they need to address septic shock and see the patient immediately.
  5. Detected patient deterioration sooner with a continuous monitoring system that captures heart rate, respiratory rate, patient movement, and bed exits and shares those real-time alerts with clinical staff to be proactive instead of reactive.

Licking Memorial Hospital was able to identify more incidents of sepsis and experienced an 85% decrease in code blue rate. They also saw a 70% decrease in mortality rate, which was an estimated 62 lives saved in the first year of implementing their sepsis prevention plan. Since then, they’ve sustained their 70% decrease in mortality and continue to save lives.

David McVeigh and Sally Arnette shared additional information in the full session, including a more in-depth look at Licking Memorial Hospital’s process, the cost of sepsis, understanding the complexity of identification algorithms, and more – watch the entire session here. You can also contact us at if you’d like to learn more about SmartBoard Vision or any of our other clinical solutions.