Seven Critical Sepsis Questions You Need to Answer

December 15, 2015 Rolande Baker

Sepsis mortality increases six to eight percent every hour that it goes undiagnosed. Most facilities are really good at catching the sickest of the sick, but what about the uncomplicated sepsis patient? When a few hours can mean the difference between life and death, healthcare providers must identify the symptoms of sepsis and quickly take action.

This past October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented its new bundle measure for severe sepsis and septic shock. The goal of the new sepsis bundle is to improve sepsis outcomes, and in many instances the requirements will mean major changes for hospital staff. In order to successfully implement this new bundle, the front line staff need to have a robust plan in place that goes beyond posting the rules on the nurses’ or physicians’ triage computer.

So what does this plan look like? Having actionable data at your fingertips so you can direct team efforts and close knowledge gaps will be key in making improvements. A strong dashboard reporting tool can offer at-a-glance insights to the number of sepsis patients that arrive with uncomplicated sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock. As a result, providers can better direct their teams to the tactical interventions needed to impact patient outcomes.

Here are seven critical questions that a sepsis dashboard can help you answer:

  1. What percentage of my sepsis patients are arriving at my door with the three gradients of sepsis: uncomplicated, severe and septic shock?
  2. What percentage of my patients who have the three sepsis types on arrival get the CMS bundle requirements of lactate acid test, blood cultures and antibiotics?
  3. What is my risk-adjusted length of stay and mortality rate compared to a national benchmark (an ever-moving number) over the last 12 months?
  4. What am I spending on care, treatments and tests for my sepsis patients compared to wage adjusted national benchmarks?
  5. Am I placing low acuity, uncomplicated sepsis patients in the ICU – my most costly level of care in the hospital?
  6. What portion of my length of stay is in the ICU compared to a national benchmark?
  7. What percentage of sepsis patients are returning within 30-60-90 days, and what is my mortality rate on those returns?


A targeted analytics dashboard will not only help you answer the above questions, but it can also provide you with the facts you need to implement necessary changes that will improve patient care. Just ask Frederick Memorial Hospital.

P.S. Do not miss my colleague’s blog Sepsis: 3 things to try when you’re ready to give up.

Author information

Rolande Baker

Rolande Baker

I’m a registered nurse with a master's in healthcare IT and a director with our clinical performance partner group. I love helping my team work smarter and getting the front line healthcare team involved in solutions by taking their rich data and turning it into actionable information. I currently live in South Carolina but am originally from Canada. When I’m not working you’ll find me hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway with my husband or traveling the world and exploring new cultures. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


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