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3 Lessons for Sepsis Committees with Dr. Sandy Estrada

The following is edited from a conversation with Sandy Estrada, Pharm.D., BCPS, Vice President, Medical Affairs, T2 Biosystems. Dr. Estrada was previously an Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist for Lee Health in Ft. Myers, FL for 13 years where she served as the Co-Director of Antimicrobial Stewardship, Director of the ID Pharmacy Residency Program, and as a member of the sepsis committee.

Sepsis Committees Get It Right With Direct Patient Care Staff Involvement

Sepsis committees often make a priority of identifying or hiring a sepsis coordinator. This position is typically held by a nurse or emergency department clinician. This leadership role for frontline caregivers helps center the committee’s actions on a passion for patient care and a desire to seek breakthroughs that can reduce sepsis mortality and improve patient outcomes.

Integration with Existing Hospital Committees is Key

Every sepsis committee should be conscious of other ongoing committees and how to maximize its influence and expertise to drive improved patient care.  Many sepsis committees are relatively recent creations. At our hospital, the stewardship committee had been in existence for about a decade when the sepsis committee was first organized. The stewardship committee’s mission of fast and appropriate targeted antibiotic utilization is highly aligned with a core sepsis committee priority. In addition, many individuals were members of both the sepsis and the stewardship committees. Our sepsis committee was very successful when it leveraged and accelerated the work of existing committees, like stewardship.

You Must Get the Right Players at the Table

An effective sepsis committee must be collaborative and have a balanced representation by clinical and administrative leaders. A purely clinical group is at risk of not having support from administration for proposed changes, while a purely administrative group may not have buy-in from the clinicians necessary to implement any changes. In addition, it is important to have someone from the IT department represented; they are key in making sure protocols and order sets get electronically implemented in a timely fashion.

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According to the CDC, of the 154 million prescriptions for antibiotics written in doctors’ offices and emergency departments each year, 30% are unnecessary.12