How Northwell Health cut sepsis rates in half

New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health has cut its sepsis infection rates in half amid mounting pressures from the Biden administration for U.S. hospitals to do more to reduce sepsis deaths — which account for about 270,000 deaths annually.

Accountability is one focus the health system has used to cut its sepsis mortality rates by 50% over the last five years, according to a Dec. 28 report from the American Medical Association.

Sustaining that progress has been possible due to leadership involvement, according to Isabel Friedman, DNP, RN, Northwell Health's principal for process improvement in its Department of Clinical Transformation. The health system has experts who dedicate time to ensure the initiative's success, prioritize accountability, set goals and best practices for quick identification and treatment of the infection.

"Accountability for sepsis care rests with our senior executive sponsors and flows systematically down to the sepsis team," Ms. Friedman told the AMA. "These teams are the boots on the ground heroes at the sites." 

Northwell's efforts have brought its sepsis mortality rate down to just 12%. For comparison, a 2022 study found that the national average sepsis mortality rate in hospitals sits around 18.4%.

According to the CDC, 73% of hospitals have a sepsis program, but only around 55% have sepsis program leaders, the AMA reported.

Other health systems, like ChristianaCare in Newark, Del., have also made strides in reducing sepsis infections and mortality rates in the last year. 

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