Meet Michigan Medicine: New team tackles leading cause of hospital deaths and readmissions

May 17, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,
Left to right: Tami Garcia, M.S.N., R.N.; Carly Redstone, M.S.N., R.N.; Jessie King, M.D., Ph.D.; Sarah Poley, R.N., B.S.N., RNC-NIC; Rosalie Mulcahy, R.N., B.S.N., PCCN

Nearly 270,000 Americans die each year of sepsis. That’s an average of one death every two minutes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection, and it’s a life-threatening medical emergency. Sepsis happens when an existing infection triggers a chain reaction throughout the body. 

The CDC reports that infections leading to sepsis most often start in the lung, urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract. Sepsis can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death without timely treatment. One in three patients who dies in a hospital has sepsis.

At Michigan Medicine, sepsis is a leading cause of death for adult hospitalized patients, and the leading cause of hospital readmission. Reducing sepsis mortality and readmission rates is an enterprise-wide initiative under the “S,” or Safety and Quality, portion of the health system’s BASE priority structure.

Meet the sepsis team

The Quality Department at U-M Health has assembled a new sepsis team, dedicated to supporting faculty and staff in the adult and pediatric emergency rooms and across inpatient units. The team will focus on helping care teams identify sepsis early and act quickly to stop sepsis and save lives.

Jessie E. King, M.D., Ph.D., is the medical director for sepsis initiatives and an assistant professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine.

“Patients across the country, and here at Michigan Medicine, are dying from this condition that’s treatable when caught early and addressed quickly,” said King.

King, who’s been leading sepsis awareness and intervention efforts at U-M Health since 2017, and officially in her current role for the last two years, is excited about the new team and its focus on empowering care teams to spot and stop sepsis.

“When we work together to recognize the early signs of sepsis and provide timely and appropriate treatment, like fluids, antibiotics and supportive care, our patients have better survival rates,” she said.

Tami Garcia, M.S.N., R.N., is the sepsis process lead.

Garcia looks forward to continuing the important work that’s already begun to identify and manage sepsis in order to reduce both the mortality and morbidity associated with the condition.

“The new sepsis team is hands-on, supporting front-line staff with the critical behaviors of early identification, education, coaching and real-time feedback,” said Garcia. “I am thrilled to be a part of this mission and look forward to working together with our care teams to improve the lives of our patients.”

Carly Redstone, M.S.N., R.N., is the sepsis coordinator for Adult Emergency Services.

“Eighty percent of patients with sepsis at Michigan Medicine come through the Emergency Department,” said Redstone. “Early identification and treatment for these patients are critical.”

She explained that one reason for delay in the treatment of sepsis is that many of the symptoms, like fever, chills, increased heart rate and low blood pressure, are common in many conditions.

“Michigan Medicine is known for its ability to care for patients with complex diagnoses and those patients might not show the ‘normal’ sepsis symptoms,” said Redstone. “This highlights the fact that recognizing sepsis is not easy but, through education and preparation, we can make a difference for all of our patients.

“As the sepsis coordinator, I want to encourage every care team member to ask the question, ‘could this be sepsis?’” she said.

“Connecting with all members of the care team is essential to understanding their experiences and barriers in recognizing and treating sepsis,” said Redstone. “As a team, we will work to break down these barriers and identify solutions.”

Rosalie Mulcahy, R.N., B.S.N., PCCN, is the inpatient sepsis coordinator for the Adult Hospitals at U-M Health.

“I round daily on adult inpatients who screen positive for sepsis, collaborate with the Rapid Response Team, and serve as a resource to all faculty and staff,” said Mulcahy, whose focus is on educating care teams about sepsis.

“Sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitalized adult patients at Michigan Medicine,” she said, “and up to 50% of survivors suffer from post-sepsis syndrome, which is the primary cause for hospital readmission.

“Early detection and prompt treatment are essential for survival,” she said. “I look forward to working closely with our patient care teams and improving patient outcomes together.”

Sarah Poley, R.N., B.S.N., RNC-NIC, is the sepsis coordinator for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

“Working together with a focus on early recognition and prompt treatment, we can eliminate the detrimental effects of sepsis,” said Poley.

“The word ‘together’ is a big part of our sepsis message,” she said. “That’s because it will take the collaborative effort of everyone on our care teams to make a difference – and I’m excited to help educate, coach and support our teams in this important work.

“We are better together,” said Poley, “and, together, we can and will stop sepsis!”