These nurses have a singular focus: Sepsis

Sepsis NursesAnna Gorman of Kaiser Health News describes “a new breed of nurses” like those at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., whose exclusive responsibility is to care for patients with sepsis. Spotlighting one such nurse, Gorman writes, “She has a clear mission: identify and treat those patients quickly to minimize their chance of death. [She] administers antibiotics, draws blood for testing, gives fluids and closely monitors her charges — on a very tight timetable.” Every American hospital has programs to target sepsis, but some experts say more should consider specifically designating sepsis nurses and coordinators like the ones at St. Joseph.

Inspired by war and saving a young victim in Times Square

ER-ReboaDeployed as surgeons in Iraq, Todd E. Rasmussen, M.D., and Jonathan L. Eliason, M.D., witnessed American servicemen and women bleeding to death from internal injuries. Denise Grady of The New York Times notes that improved tourniquets and transfusion techniques can prevent fatal blood loss in people with wounds to their arms and legs, but there was no effective way to treat bleeding in the abdomen or pelvis as swiftly. So these two physicians created a smaller, stripped-down version of the traditional balloon catheter that, Grady writes, “could be placed quickly inside the aorta by trauma surgeons and, eventually, by general surgeons, [emergency department] doctors and maybe medics.” It’s called the ER-Reboa (the initials are from the inventors’ last names); the Department of Defense and the University of Michigan hold the patent. The “internal tourniquet” is gradually being adopted at civilian trauma centers and the military. Mercifully, it was available in May to surgeons at NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue who used it to save the life of a teenager injured when a man plowed his car into pedestrians in Times Square. Read the moving story of that young woman and the police officers who went the extra mile to help her mother in Jim Dwyer’s “About New York” column in the Times.

Encouraging news on ‘super-users’

Super UtilizersEfforts to keep health care “super-users” from going to the hospital so often appear to be paying off, according to an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Staff Writer Tom Avril notes that super-users — individuals admitted to the hospital at least five times a year — make up just 3 percent of hospital patients in Pennsylvania but account for 15 percent of hospital days and 10 percent of hospital payments: $1.25 billion in that state alone. The good news is that their numbers have declined since 2012 thanks in large part to hospitals that “have explored a variety of programs to keep patients healthier, such as tasking nurses and pharmacists with checking on patients by phone and even visiting them at home.”

Pet therapy is great, but do you know the guidelines?

Pet TherapyResearch out of Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction finds that while pet therapy is being adopted by more hospitals, elder care and other facilities because of its positive impact on patients’ mental and physical health, many institutions fail to follow recommended guidelines for animal visitation. Animal-assisted intervention programs can lower blood pressure, improve mood and even delay the onset of dementia, according to a Tufts University news release. However, failure to follow the guidelines raises concerns about human allergies to animals, animal behavior, stress on the animals and animal immunizations. The risk of disease transmission between animals and people is especially high when health, grooming and hand-washing protocols are not properly followed. The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America offers comprehensive guidelines for animal visitation in health care facilities.