December 2012
Swank Health: Your monthly news from Swank HealthCare

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Did You Know?

Sepsis Awareness

Top List

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Populations

What's Going On?

Free HCAHPS Webinar Series

Recommended Readings
Now Trending

Sepsis Trivia

Recommended Courses*
  • #34914 Sepsis and Modified Early Warning Scoring: Part 1
  • #35014 Sepsis and Modified Early Warning Scoring: Part 2
  • #81814 Sepsis Update
  • #80513 / #33213 Sepsis: Who is at Risk

* course numbers may vary by facility

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Did You Know?

Sepsis Awareness

Did you know that sepsis is the third leading cause of disease in the U.S., and that every two minutes someone dies of the condition? Sadly, it’s true! There are more than 1.6 million cases of sepsis every year in the U.S. It is the most expensive hospital condition, costing more than $20 billion each year.

Sepsis, sometimes called blood poisoning, is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. It occurs when pathogens or their toxins are present in the blood or tissues. Sepsis is considered severe when it occurs in association with signs of organ dysfunction. Septic shock, multiple organ failure, and death often occur if not recognized early and treated promptly. Victims of severe sepsis almost always require treatment in an intensive care unit for several days or weeks. Forty percent of patients with severe sepsis do not survive.

While most cases of sepsis are associated with serious illness or injury, it can occur following routine surgery or minor scrapes and cuts that occur during normal daily activities. The most common causes of sepsis are:

  • Respiratory infections, such as community-acquired pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • GI infections, such as C- diff or a perforated bowel
  • Prosthetic device infection

Early assessment and prompt treatment are critical factors known to improve patient outcomes. It is important for healthcare professionals to look for warning signs, which include:

  • Fever or hypothermia
  • Heart rate greater than 90 beats per minute
  • Fast respiratory rate
  • Altered mental status
  • Edema
  • High blood glucose without diabetes
  • High or low white blood cell count
  • Immature white blood cells in the circulation
  • Elevated plasma C-reactive protein
  • Elevated procalcitonin (PCT)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low oxygen saturation
  • High cardiac index
  • Low oxygen level
  • Low urine output
  • High creatinine
  • Coagulation abnormalities
  • Absent bowel sounds
  • Low platelets
  • High bilirubin
  • High lactate
  • Decreased capillary filling or mottling

For every hour treatment for sepsis is delayed, the risk of death increases by 7.6%. It should be considered a medical emergency with treatment initiated as soon as it is identified. Standard treatment includes IV antibiotics and IV fluids. Other treatments, such as medications to increase blood pressure, oxygen, or dialysis may also be needed depending on the patient’s unique needs and conditions.

What's Going On?

Free HCAHPS Webinar Series

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Recommended Readings

Swank HealthCare has premiered 180 courses each year for the past 15 years.

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Populations

Anyone with infection is at risk for developing sepsis; however, some are more vulnerable than others. Here are the 10 most vulnerable populations:

  1. Hospitalized patients due to another serious illness
  2. The very young or very old
  3. Those with a weakened immune system from a condition (such as, HIV or leukemia), or treatments (such as, chemotherapy or long-term steroids)
  4. Pregnancy
  5. Those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes
  6. Those with IV catheters
  7. Patients on mechanical ventilation
  8. Anyone genetically prone to infections
  9. Post-operative patients
  10. Those with wounds or injuries resulting from an accident

Now Trending

Sepsis Trivia

An early warning sign of sepsis is _____?

Approximately what percentage of sepsis survivors are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge?

Which of the following causes the greatest number of deaths each year in the U.S.?

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A fast respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths per minute is an early warning sign.

Others include a fever above 101.3 F or below 95 F, heart rate greater than 90 BPM, and possible or confirmed infection.


Approximately 60%