Problem Suggestion and Context
Sepsis is defined as a body’s response to an infection that has escalated to a life-threatening condition. Every year, more than a million US citizens suffer from the severe form of the said condition, and for 15-30% (Sato & Nasu, 2015), the illness proves lethal. Statistics drawn from 2009 through 2014 have shown that sepsis had manifested itself in 6% of hospitalized patients (Sato & Nasu, 2015). This condition does not only decrease affected individuals’ quality of life dramatically but also adds to health practitioners’ already challenging workload. It does not help that in the United States, the number of sepsis cases per year has recently been on the increase, raising even more concerns in the medical community.
Today, the mechanism of sepsis development is researched and described in detail. Deutschman and Tracey (2014) explain that infection can trigger a disproportionate immune response in the human body. It, in turn, releases chemical agents at large to fight the infection. Those chemicals lead to widespread inflammation that further escalates to the emergence of blood clots and blood vessel leakage. Blood flow impairment means limited access to oxygen and nutrients, which causes organ damage (Gotts & Matthay, 2016).
The question arises as to why sepsis is becoming more prevalent when patient care standards and hygienic practices have been improving over the last few decades. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences attributes the increased number of sepsis cases to broader demographic and health trends (Novosad, 2016). Some people develop resistance to antibiotic drugs and, thus, become at a higher risk of sepsis.
Organ transplant operations have also become common, and those who underwent them are recognized as more vulnerable to the said condition. Lastly, due to medical advances, people with chronic conditions are living longer, and sepsis is more common in the elderly.
Impact of the Problem on the Quality of Care and Implications to Nursing
Nowadays, there is a certain paradigm shift in knowledge and attitude toward sepsis. Kempker, Wang, and Martin (2018) argue that this condition should be conceptualized not as a problem of individual patients but as a public health emergency. The researchers are convinced that the situation will only change if the entire healthcare system will undergo incremental changes and develop clear guidelines on sepsis treatment. Kempker et al. (2018) put forward a model of three levels of prevention. The primary level refers to the prevention of infection or the onset of sepsis and dysfunction.
At the secondary level, health workers are prescribed to recognize and treat sepsis as early as possible. Lastly, tertiary prevention aims at mitigating the long-term consequences of this condition. The role of nurses is essential at all prevention levels as they help recognize the disease, intervene, and provide emotional support (Bertoncini and Di Massimo, 2016). At the secondary and third levels, nurses are responsible for the timely delivery of antibiotics and controlling the source of infection.
Kempker et al. (2018) emphasize the importance of primary prevention, and the findings of the study conducted by Rhee et al. (2019) concur. The researchers have found that only 10% of sepsis cases were solvable after the onset, while 90% of deaths from sepsis were impossible to prevent. Thus, health workers should commit to lifelong learning and study sepsis from the perspective of current demographic trends. The primary focus should be on early recognition and preventing the condition from escalating to organ dysfunction. There should be standardized guidelines and practices as well as available official resources that health workers could consult (Kissoon, 2014). Lastly, on a larger scale, such issues as the lack of medical personnel, equipment, and funding should be tackled.
Bertoncini, F., & Di Massimo, D. S. (2016). Sepsis: Implications for nursing. Italian Journal of Medicine, 10(4), 360-363.
Deutschman, C. S., & Tracey, K. J. (2014). Sepsis: current dogma and new perspectives. Immunity, 40(4), 463-475.
Gotts, J. E., & Matthay, M. A. (2016). Sepsis: Pathophysiology and clinical management. BMJ, 353, 1-20.
Kempker, J. A., Wang, H. E., & Martin, G. S. (2018). Sepsis is a preventable public health problem. Critical Care, 22(1), 116.
Kissoon N. (2014). Sepsis guideline implementation: Benefits, pitfalls and possible solutions. Critical care (London, England), 18(2), 207.
Novosad, S. A. (2016). Vital signs: Epidemiology of sepsis: prevalence of health care factors and opportunities for prevention. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 65.
Rhee, C., Jones, T. M., Hamad, Y., Pande, A., Varon, J., O’Brien, C., … Klompas., M. (2019). Prevalence, underlying causes, and preventability of sepsis-associated mortality in US acute care hospitals. JAMA Network Open, 2(2), e187571.
Sato, R., & Nasu, M. (2015). A review of sepsis-induced cardiomyopathy. Journal of Intensive Care, 3(1), 48.