OhioHealth Sepsis Effort ‘Saved About 250 Lives’

Christopher Cheney, January 25, 2018

"We've worked through the Central Ohio Trauma System to get into the mindset of the emergency medical responders because they are significantly as likely to be transporting a patient to one of our hospitals with sepsis as with a heart attack or stroke."

New diagnostic tool

A new sepsis test developed at Salt Lake City–based BioFire Diagnostics has significantly reduced the laboratory time required to diagnose sepsis and narrow down the best antibiotic treatment, O'Brien says.

"It's gone from a day or more to a couple of hours."

The previous generation of sepsis tests requires a lengthy two-step process: A blood culture tests positive for sepsis, then the blood culture is "challenged" with multiple antibiotics to see which antibiotic would be best for treating the patient.

With the new test, once a blood culture tests positive for sepsis, molecular testing quickly narrows down the best antibiotics to treat the patient.

"It helps us to more rapidly identify the bacteria or organism that might be causing sepsis. Once a culture is positive for sepsis, this test helps us to very quickly get to which antibiotic will work best for the bacteria, and, just as important, which antibiotic won't work," O'Brien says.

Quicker to the bedside

Once an OhioHealth clinician has prescribed an antibiotic, pharmacists are expected to have the medication at the bedside in less than an hour, he says.

"In pharmacy, you need engagement with the medication safety pharmacist and the antibiotic stewardship pharmacist," he says "They are the folks who tend to be most in tune with our pattern of resistance to antibiotics and what is appropriate based on where the clinician thinks the patient was infected."

Related: Ohio Provides Hospitals With a Sepsis Battle Plan

As has been the case with the health system's sepsis awareness and education campaigns, there has been no one-size-fits-all approach to boosting pharmacy response times for sepsis patients, and a crucial element of achieving quicker pharmacy reaction times has been including pharmacy representatives on Sepsis Improvement Teams that have been formed at every OhioHealth hospital.

Christopher Cheney

Christopher Cheney is the senior finance editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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