National Patient Safety Organizations Recognize Work to Combat Sepsis

May 24, 2018

Patients, Families Lead Effort to Raise Awareness, Get Immediate Help

COLUMBIA, Md. (Thursday, May 24, 2018)— MedStar Health’s initiative in partnership with patients and families to raise awareness of sepsis has received a national award, the 2018 Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement. The MedStar Health Sepsis Collaborative, launched in January 2017, is a comprehensive quality improvement initiative. A major component of the effort is to ensure consumers can identify signs and symptoms of sepsis early and seek immediate medical care.

Sepsis is a leading cause of death in the United States, more than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS combined, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  More than 250,000 people in America die from sepsis each year, yet awareness of the disease is startlingly low.

The award was announced today at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement/National Patient Safety Foundation’s Annual Patient Safety Congress, in Boston. EngagingPatients.org, an online community focusing on improving communications between patients and providers, created the Sherman Award, and it was conferred by Taylor Healthcare and the IHI/NPSF Lucien Leape Institute.  Accepting on behalf of MedStar Health were the leaders of the collaborative, Armando Nahum a member of the MedStar Patient and Family Advisory Council for Quality and Safety (PFACQS), Jeanne Decosmo, BSN, MBA, CPHQ,  director of Clinical Quality, and Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, director of  Clinical Performance Improvement.

The majority of sepsis cases, 80 percent, begin at home, not in a hospital, as is commonly believed.  Individuals need to be as aware of sepsis as they are of heart attack or stroke symptoms and seek immediate medical intervention.   

The MedStar initiative includes education aimed at patients and family members as well as care providers and support staff. It is also focused on improving emergency department processes related to identifying and treating sepsis. In March, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation, which was sponsored by MedStar Health and initiated by a sepsis survivor working closely with the team, to establish a Sepsis Public Awareness Campaign Workgroup to develop a statewide campaign to raise public awareness of the disease.

Dr. Seshamani said, “It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of the providers, staff, patients and family members at MedStar Health who have joined together to improve the health of our community. It is only through the collaborative innovation of our system-wide teams and the courage of our patients and family members to share their stories that we are able to drive change.”

This year’s Sherman Award was also given to Memorial Rehabilitation Institute’s Family in Training Program. For more information visit EngagingPatients.org/award.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org.

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