July 27, 2011
Yosef Dlugacz, Ph.D.
Sepsis is an extremely severe illness, often life-threatening, usually caused by a bacterial infection. Patients with sepsis can suffer from shock, the failure of major organs, such as kidneys, liver or lungs and changes in mental status. In hospitalized patients, sepsis can result from infection from intravenous lines, surgical wounds, surgical drains, and skin breakdown (“bed sores”). During an episode of sepsis, bacteria overwhelm the bloodstream. People who are elderly, with weakened immune systems or who suffer from chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable to sepsis.
The North Shore-LIJ Health System and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) have established a collaborative initiative to address this widespread and dangerous condition. The goal is to combine the research and scientific strengths of North Shore-LIJ with the extensive data provided by IHI to result in an increased understanding of the causes and effective treatment of sepsis with the goal of controlling and eliminating it.
Although we understand many of the causes of sepsis and North Shore-LIJ has instituted protection for patients (improved hand hygiene protocols, antibiotic administration), it remains an intractable disease. The health system has been collecting data and studying the important variables associated with sepsis for many years, which has enabled us to develop measurements in order to monitor prevalence and improvements. This new IHI collaboration will enable both organizations to share insights and resources which should lead to an increased understanding of the issues involved in controlling this illness.