HealthSeptember 18, 2019

The focus on sepsis: The power of a personal commitment

Final installment of our interview with Laura Messineo, RN, vice president of telehealth at AMITA Health.

Why have you personally gotten so involved in the effort to fight sepsis?

Throughout my career I have seen patients who have sepsis. As an ICU nurse you can see the devastation that it brings not only to the patient but to the patient's family members. Back eight years ago, I decided I wanted to do something more than teach nurses about sepsis or implement sepsis screening protocols. I want to engage on the national level and local community level, on improving community awareness of sepsis.

I had met many people who had lost people to sepsis, including young children. Or they had significant changes to their lives, such as loss of limbs, due to sepsis. I wanted to educate families that when a family member is sick, they should tell their provider, "I am concerned about sepsis."  If it is recognized quickly, there are good outcomes for the patient.

I started the Illinois Sepsis Challenge 5K Run and Walk six years ago. It just took place the last Saturday in July. Myself, the nurses that work for me in my department, and my family all put the program together. All proceeds benefit the Sepsis Alliance. They create programs and materials for providers, videos, ads, pocket cards, etc. Being a board member for the Sepsis Alliance, over the last five years I have spoken nationally on sepsis at different events.

Can you describe the successes you have had with your sepsis program in the Presence and AMITA hospitals?

In our hospitals we have a 9% mortality rate from ICU septic shock today, compared to 17.4% in 2015. Look how much farther we've come since then!

We now have an electronic tool that's alerting us to a patient at risk for sepsis. These tools are what prompt treatment to be instituted on the patient. The goal is to provide the standard of care within 3 hours of symptom onset.

We have seen great compliance with protocols, order sets and tools from our clinicians. That is helping drive down the mortality rates.

How did you achieve this high rate of buy-in from clinical staff?

I’ll talk about my department, telehealth. Six or seven years ago, when we talked about sepsis, I didn't really feel there was great support for it.

Then, for Sepsis Awareness Month, every day in September, I read a Faces of Sepsis story. If you go on the Faces of Sepsis site, there are stories from all over the world. I would read those stories, one story a day, to the clinical team here. I said, "That could be your son, your grandmother, your spouse."

That seemed to really resonate. We did a lot of formal education, we brought speakers in, we had dinner events. All of that helped my team come together and say that, as a team, we are committed to increasing sepsis awareness, and screening all of our patients and making sure they get the right treatments.


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