Sepsis deaths a concern for Canadian hospitals

A new report focuses on efforts by Canadian hospitals to reduce more than 9,300 deaths each year from sepsis, a serious body-wide response to infection that patients often acquire while being treated in hospital.

TORONTO — A new report focuses on efforts by Canadian hospitals to reduce more than 9,300 deaths each year from sepsis, a serious body-wide response to infection that patients often acquire while being treated in hospital.

The report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information looked at hospitals, not including those in Quebec, in 2008-2009, as part of an ongoing project to track hospital mortality.

It’s their first pan-Canadian snapshot of sepsis, one of the top causes of death in hospitals, said Indra Pulcins, director of indicators and performance measurement at the institute.

“We’ve looked at all hospitals, all HSMRs (hospital standardized mortality ratios) across the country, and done this analysis to shed more light on sepsis, what can be done, and what hospitals are doing about it,” she said.

They found that more than 30,500 patients were hospitalized with sepsis in the period studied, fewer than the number admitted for new heart attacks.

“One in three patients with sepsis in Canada will end up dying from it — so it’s about 30 per cent. Just to put this in context, the mortality rate for stroke was about one in five patients would die, for heart attacks, one in 10 patients would die,” Pulcins said.

There were no significant changes in either sepsis hospitalizations or sepsis mortality rates since 2004-05, the report found.

The condition can be difficult to diagnose and needs to be treated quickly with antibiotics, Pulcins said.

Signs of sepsis are fever or lower-than-usual temperature, rapid heart rate and breathing and an abnormally high or low number of white blood cells. As it gets worse, blood flow to vital organs can decline, and the kidneys, blood vessels and lung function can be affected.

Most infections don’t lead to sepsis, but people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic conditions are more vulnerable. The report found that sepsis patients with pre-existing illnesses had higher odds of dying.

Besides the human toll, there is a financial cost because the average length of a hospital stay is nine days longer for sepsis patients than for those admitted for other conditions.

“We can estimate that most hospitalizations cost around $5,200 for all conditions, and the average cost for a sepsis hospitalization was about six times higher,” Pulcins noted.

The study also looked at the efforts of three hospitals that are actively trying to reduce deaths from sepsis.

Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont., launched an outreach team, whereby a nurse on a regular ward can call on the expertise of an intensive-care nurse and respiratory therapist to help do an assessment, said Barbara Kendrick, the hospital’s director of quality and planning.

“There are special skill sets that a critical-care nurse has and they also use different types of monitoring — they can bring that monitoring to the ward and provide their expertise and assessment to help that ward nurse,” she said in an interview.

“So rather than wait till the patient fails enough that everyone can recognize it and they go to the ICU, you’re trying to intervene earlier.”

A similar response team was created at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton in 2007, and Dr. Roman Jaeschke says it has led to fewer sepsis patients going to the ICU.

Efforts undertaken at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre are also detailed.

“For every hour delay of sepsis shock before you get antibiotics on board, survival has been shown to decrease by 7.5 per cent,” emergency room Dr. Marc Francis says in the report.

New measures to identify and treat sepsis patients in the ER of the Calgary hospital have meant a mean reduction of 84 minutes in the time it takes to start antibiotics in severe sepsis, the report states, although Francis says whether it translates into fewer deaths remains to be seen.

The institute’s report found that the overall hospital standardized mortality ratios appear to be falling.

“It’s really the best time for patient safety in Canada because there’s so much attention on it, and hospitals are very much paying attention to it,” said Pulcins.

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Saudi Arabia spat affecting Canadians embarking on hajj, community members say

TORONTO — Members of Canada’s Muslim community say recent tensions between Ottawa… Continue reading

Tug carrying up to 22,000 litres of fuel capsizes in Fraser River off Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The smell of diesel filled the air as crews worked… Continue reading

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month