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Memorial Health University Medical Center Combats Sepsis by Reducing Variation in Triage and Escalating Patient Intervention

Sepsis is a major issue in hospitals across the U.S., where it’s a leading contributor to mortality rates, readmissions and length of stay. This was true for Memorial Health University Medical Center (MHUMC), located in Savannah, Georgia, where a 2017 evaluation revealed that further development of screening tools and data analysis were required for successful treatment of sepsis patients.

The biggest challenge MHUMC faced was the early identification of sepsis patients. Before 2017 and with the transition to a new EHR, MHUMC’s Emergency Department lacked a standardized process for early identification and notification of sepsis to its providers. Early identification and treatment of sepsis is critically important for improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare expenditures.

MHUMC’s Emergency Department needed a way to streamline its process so that healthcare providers would be notified as soon as possible.

Building on MHUMC’s existing partnership with Premier® at the time, Premier Performance Partners developed a project plan, established milestones and provided coaching to help address MHUMC’s sepsis goals. Through this process, the team developed a triage sepsis screening tool and monitor for use throughout the organization. The tool serves a multitude of functions, including:

  • Defines a standardized data population for sepsis
  • Provides data for populating sepsis dashboard that’s shared on the intranet for extra visibility
  • Optimizes the Best Practice Advisory (BPA) alert system for sepsis identification
  • Implements order set utilization

Using a Premier-led approach and QualityAdvisor™ data, “First, we introduced data from Premier showing where our opportunities lie within the organization regarding sepsis,” says Tamara Brazil, MBA, BSN, RN, Clinical Quality Excellence lead at MHUMC.

“Next, we identified work streams, built our charters and formed multidisciplinary teams to aid in implementation of action plans.”

Using a 90-day rapid cycle test of change, MHUMC reduced sepsis mortality observed to expected (O/E) rates by 45 percent and is seeing an improvement in most sepsis measures compared to the prior year. Readmission rates are down as well, reaching the O/E goal of 0.9.

“We learned that small process changes can lead to big changes in outcomes,” says Brazil. “Our Premier Clinical Performance Partner helped us focus on the critical steps to identify sepsis early and substantially reduce our sepsis mortality rate.”

As Brazil says: “Saving lives is what this is all about.”

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