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Sepsis Alliance Launches Institute to Improve Quality of Care for Deadly Infection

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   December 18, 2019

The Sepsis Alliance has created The Sepsis Institute to offer training for healthcare professionals across the continuum of care.

The Sepsis Alliance, which was founded in 2007 to raise awareness about sepsis among the public and healthcare professionals, has launched The Sepsis Institute to provide training for sepsis care best practices.

Sepsis is a deadly infection that is diagnosed in at least 1.7 million adults annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 270,000 Americans die from sepsis every year, and 1 in 3 patients who die in hospitals are diagnosed with sepsis, the CDC says.

The Sepsis Institute (TSI) is designed to build on the sepsis awareness efforts of the Sepsis Alliance, TSI Education Director Peter Broadhead says.

"At TSI, what we aim to achieve is the same level of success that the Sepsis Alliance has accomplished with the public in giving healthcare providers the educational information that they need to achieve excellence in the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis," he says.

The Sepsis Alliance decided to create TSI to meet a pressing need for sepsis education among healthcare professionals, Broadhead says.

"We assessed the healthcare provider community in a survey and found that 3 in 4 nurses said that there was a lack of support services and training on the core concepts of managing sepsis at their facilities. We believe that in making sepsis education interactive, high-quality, and productive for healthcare providers, we can accomplish a great deal in the healthcare community so that fewer people in this country are dying every year," he says.

Educational offerings

TSI was launched in October with funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Training modules, webinars, and other content offered on the TSI website is free and provides opportunities to earn continuing education credits.

TSI's target audience extends to healthcare professionals across the continuum of care, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists, technicians, and social workers. "[The] time from diagnosis to treatment of sepsis is crucial, and any person in a healthcare provider organization ought to know about sepsis. Anyone in the channel of care can be important in the diagnosis of sepsis, and we are aiming to spread this message as far and wide as we can," he says.

All TSI training content is being crafted to fit into the workdays of busy healthcare professionals, Broadhead says. "We have recognized that healthcare providers need convenient opportunities to engage in learning activities. We have found that it is important to meet them in providing small-bite-format learning. For example, they can engage in an activity for 15 minutes, then stop and come back to that activity later."

Building partnerships

Establishing partnerships with professional associations is a key element of TSI's educational strategy.

"We're reaching out to leading healthcare associations and organizations across the continuum of care, recognizing that the different healthcare provider types need different types of educational activities around sepsis," Broadhead says.

Current TSI partners include the Children's Hospital Association, American College of Chest Physicians, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The partnerships have generated several training modules such as a home care module produced in collaboration with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.

Establishing partnerships generates multiple benefits for healthcare professionals who receive TSI training, he says.

"We believe these partnerships are an excellent pathway to subject matter expertise, content creation, distribution, and, in many cases, accreditation. We're working with the American Physical Therapy Association, which is an accredited provider of continuing education credit for physical therapists. By working with accredited organizations, we can jointly provide a credit type that is suitable for particular provider populations."

TSI also will be serving as a clearinghouse for information generated by partner organizations, Broadhead says. "We are aiming to help the provider organizations with distribution of content that they might want to get out to our population of learners—we have learners who have already registered with TSI and many healthcare providers who are part of the Sepsis Alliance family of learners. The benefits of these partnerships feed both ways."

Ambitious goal

TSI's overall vision is a national healthcare system that is well-prepared for sepsis across the continuum of care, he says.

"To get there, we recognize that we need to create, accredit, and deliver expert content for healthcare providers of all types on the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and treatment of sepsis. Ultimately, what TSI is aiming to do in the healthcare provider communities is to enhance the skills, strategies, and performance of healthcare providers."

A crucial component of TSI's approach to sepsis education is focusing on the quality of care rather than mistakes in care settings, Broadhead says.

"Frequently when people talk about sepsis, they think of mistakes or medical errors that were made. What we are trying to do is disentangle that mindset from our educational activities. We want to make our efforts about accomplishing excellence as opposed to fixing errors."

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


In a Sepsis Alliance survey, 3 in 4 nurses said support services and training on the core concepts of managing sepsis at their facilities was lacking.

Launched in October, The Sepsis Institute offers free online training and continuing education credits for a range of healthcare professionals.

The Sepsis Institute is creating educational content in collaboration with professional associations such as the American College of Chest Physicians.

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