San Francisco Hospitals reduce sepsis mortality rate by 40 percent

Nine San Francisco hospitals have reduced the mortality rate from sepsis by 40 percent between the years 2008 - 2010, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

The article states that the first step was working with their nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, specialists and administrators to get them to recognize that there was a problem. Then, they were educated on how to better identify and screen patients most at risk of developing sepsis, and had them follow protocols to reduce the risk of sepsis.

Hospitals involved in the project were allowed to develop their own protocols to address the issue.  Some of these include:

  • Allowing ER nurses to order lactate blood tests, a key way to identify the existence of sepsis, instead of waiting for a doctor.
  • All patients in the medical-surgical and critical care units were screened every 12-hour shift for sepsis instead of screening at risk only patients.

(Sources: The San Francisco Chronicle,, April 21, 2011; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, April 22, 2011)