As awareness of sepsis and the critical need for early recognition has increased, many facilities have implemented sepsis codes and have organized rapid-response teams that assist bedside nurses with treatment protocols. Some have gone even farther, creating the new position of sepsis coordinator to advance best-practice, evidence-based sepsis care.
Nurses in many types of healthcare settings will care for patients with severe sepsis. As frontline caregivers, nurses must be able to identify the subtle changes that indicate the onset of sepsis, and to initiate timely interventions that can decrease the chances of septic shock and organ failure. In 2013, new protocols for sepsis interventions were spelled out in a set of international guidelines under the Surviving Sepsis Campaign. The guidelines outline key management steps that nurses must take within specified time frames. By hiring a dedicated sepsis coordinator, facilities can improve oversight of these efforts to improve quality of care.
In most cases, the sepsis coordinator role will be a leadership position that requires collaboration with physicians, nurse managers, and training managers. Because of this scope, employers are likely to require a BSN and to prefer candidates with an MSN degree plus some experience in a quality improvement program. Depending on the facility, the role might include any of the following skills and duties:
- Provide clinical expertise to nursing staff as well as patients and their families
- Coordinate sepsis care for various patient populations, including geriatric or pediatric patients, and ensure that protocols are age-appropriate
- Develop clinical tools like standing orders, bundles, nurse-driven interventions, clinical decision support apps, etc. to ensure continuity and quality of care
- Supervise rapid response teams (also known as sepsis response teams)
- Create nursing documentation standards and ensure compatibility with the existing EMR
- Collaborate with nursing and training staff to create and implement educational materials/programs
- Develop methods of evaluating and tracking program effectiveness and adherence to guidelines
- Stay current on clinical research and evolving best practices in sepsis care
- Acquire and maintain certification as a clinical nurse specialist
You can see that a sepsis coordinator must combine the roles of clinician, leader, liaison, educator, researcher, consultant, and quality improvement specialist. Through focused efforts, hospitals are seeing improved survival rates after developing treatment protocols and improving collaboration between providers.
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