Reducing sepsis mortality


The CDC estimates that 1.7 million people in the United States acquire sepsis annually; sepsis accounts for nearly 270,000 patient deaths per year.

Decreasing mortality and improving patient outcomes requires early detection and appropriate timely treatment. The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare’s recent sepsis project demonstrated this by analyzing root causes and reducing sepsis mortality with five leading hospitals by an aggregate of nearly 25%.

“Most organizations can tell you how they are doing with regard to whether or not they are ordering lactates or fluids, but many can’t tell you where in the process these elements are failing,” said Kelly Barnes, Black Belt III, Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. “For instance, is the issue in ordering lactates, drawing lactates, or getting the results of lactates in a timely manner? The key is to understand where in the process things are breaking down to identify what solutions an organization needs to put in place.”

During the Joint Commission project, one organization found that patients had inadequate fluid resuscitation due to staff fear of fluid overload, while another organization found they had issues with fluids being disconnected when patients were taken for tests and then not reconnected – different problems that needed different solutions.

The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare is currently developing a Targeted Solutions Tool® (TST®), scheduled for release in 2019, to help organizations determine their issues with sepsis recognition and barriers to meeting sepsis bundle element requirements and implement targeted solutions to address their specific issues. The tool will be available free of charge to all Joint Commission-accredited customers.


1. “Hospital-Wide Sepsis Project Reduces Mortality by Nearly 25 Percent,” Kelly Barnes, The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. 2018, Sep 25.

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