ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- New York will be the first state in the nation to mandate specific protocols to reduce deaths from infection-caused sepsis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Cuomo said in his annual State of the State address this month new state regulations would ensure hospitals aggressively look for sepsis in patients that could save the lives of 5,000 to 8,000 New Yorkers a year.
Sepsis is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals, striking 750,000 Americans and killing between 28 percent and 50 percent each year, the same number of deaths caused annually by heart attacks, the National Institute of General Medical Services said.
Dr. Foster Gesten, medical director for the Office of Quality and Patient Safety in New York state's Department of Health, said sepsis begins with an infection, which seeps into the bloodstream and triggers the body to produce an overwhelming, self-destructive immune response, potentially leading to organ failure, the Albany Times Union reported.
But simple, proactive measures can bring "a dramatic reduction in mortality," Gesten said.
State health officials are drafting regulations, and the governor's speech laid out some of the plans, such as the use of a checklist to flag those with signs of sepsis, a "countdown clock" for timely treatment and a requirement that New York hospitals publicly report the outcomes of the new protocols.
Such efforts already have proved effective -- in 55 hospitals in the New York metropolitan area from January 2011 to September 2012, there was a 22 percent reduction in severe sepsis inpatient mortality rates, Gesten said.