Following the widely publicized hospital death in 2012 of a 12-year-old boy from undiagnosed sepsis, New York state has taken the lead in battling the potentially lethal condition, which affects more than 750,000 U.S. patients each year.
Early last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new regulations, unprecedented nationally, requiring the state's general acute-care hospitals to adopt evidence-based practices to curb sepsis mortality rates among adult and pediatric patients. Cuomo said the regulations would save 5,000 to 8,000 lives a year, and he predicted they would serve as a model for other states.
Some hospital officials and quality experts, however, worry about the time burden the rules will impose on busy emergency department staff, and they caution that getting physicians to change their approach to sepsis is no easy task.
Years before the new regulations, many of the state's hospitals had launched their own ambitious sepsis programs. The STOP Sepsis Collaborative, for instance, an initiative in the greater New York City area now in its fourth year, reported a 23% drop in mortality from severe sepsis—sepsis with associated organ failure—among its 57 member hospitals, as of June 2013.