A decade ago, America’s health care community took on heart attacks with gusto, harnessing the power of research and data to make sure that every patient got the best possible care. It worked: Death rates for heart attack have dropped. The same has happened with heart failure and pneumonia. Now, say MCIRCC members Jack Iwashyna M.D., Ph.D., and Colin Cooke M.D., M.Sc., M.S., it’s time to do the same for sepsis. Sepsis may not have the same name recognition as heart attacks -- but it now affects more hospital patients, and leads to more hospital costs, than any other diagnosis. Half of all in-hospital deaths involve sepsis. Caused by a body-wide over-reaction to any kind of infection, it can lead to damage of vital organs and now kills one in every six people diagnosed with it. More people die from sepsis than die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined.

In a new viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors lay out the case for a national system that would hold hospitals and care teams accountable for sepsis diagnosis and care. Just as it has done for other diseases, the federal government should set clear standards and targets for the kind of care that gives sepsis patients the best odds of surviving, they say. But unlike in previous efforts, the approach should incentivize better detection, start with regional collaboratives to determine the best approaches, and respond to new evidence from rapidly evolving sepsis research. To read the full announcement visit the UMHS website at http://umhealth.me/sepsisj