Pratt: Sepsis fight intensifies

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

With the shared goal of improving safety and quality for patients, the American Hospital Association (AHA) created the Health Research and Educational Trust “Hospital Improvement Innovation Network” (HIIN), which allows hospitals from across the nation to share resources, best practices and data in order to work together to better meet goals such as reducing harm (falls, hospital-acquired infections, medication errors, etc.) and readmissions.

St. James Parish Hospital is proud to be a HIIN partner, positioning us at the forefront of quality improvement in health care.

One of the latest shared goals of HIIN Hospitals focuses on reducing sepsis deaths.

Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body, causing a cascade of changes that damage multiple organ systems often leading to organ failure and possibly death.

Sepsis is one of the largest causes of preventable mortality for hospitalized patients. Therefore, St. James Parish Hospital, along with several peers nationwide, is committed to implementing new processes to better and more quickly identify and begin treating patients who are septic or potentially septic.

St. James Parish Hospital was recently applauded in a social media campaign by the Louisiana Hospital Association for our ongoing local efforts in regard to reducing the mortality rate for septic patients.

Our ER staff members have been trained to quickly recognize signs and call “Code Sepsis” if certain symptoms present. In addition, we have added signage in our triage areas so that the signs of sepsis are top-of-mind when we first assess our patients.

Because sepsis is a time-sensitive condition (similar to stroke in which hours and minutes matter), the American Hospital Association recently took its sepsis focus one step further, creating a “Sepsis SNAP” (Safety Network to Accelerate Performance) to pilot a new program to quickly transfer patients from rural hospitals who exhibit signs of sepsis.

St. James Parish Hospital and Ochsner Medical Center — New Orleans have teamed up as one of only nine hospitals in the nation to pilot and perfect a sepsis transfer protocol from rural to tertiary facilities.

We are proud to announce that our partnership is the only one in Louisiana.

Since beginning the initiative, St. James Parish Hospital’s ER team — led by ER Medical Director Dr. William Freeman — has worked closely with Ochsner’s transfer center director and crew, infectious disease team and  flight team.

Most recently, the team from Ochsner completed a site visit via helicopter in order for the multidisciplinary team to meet and discuss the ongoing initiative.

St. James Parish Hospital and Ochsner’s participation in the Sepsis SNAP has been recognized nationally. The AHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust Newsletter highlighted both hospitals for their ongoing commitment to the goal of improving sepsis outcomes and for working together to spread community awareness about sepsis reduction.

When it comes to quality and patient safety, standing still means falling behind, so as a team, we are committed to working together to make health care better.

Mary Ellen Pratt is St. James Parish Hospital CEO. She can be reached at