More than 1 million Americans fight sepsis every year. One third of them don’t survive.

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming reaction to an acute infection. It is more common than heart attack and more harmful than stroke, killing one person every two minutes. Providing care for these patients is a priority at Carolinas HealthCare System.

Our Code Sepsis emergency response program – an organized, multi-team approach to reducing complications and deaths associated with the infection – quickly diagnoses patients with these infections and provides a treatment plan for the most critical of patients within the first hours of care.

The System’s Sepsis Collaborative – a group of providers that helps ensure proper communications and plans are disseminated across the System for Code Sepsis – organized clinical and administrative representatives of 17 System facilities to focus on patients hospitalized with acute infections. It aims to establish a workplace culture where teammates are more aware of sepsis and to change standard patient care so that teammates recognize acute sepsis and septic shock as medical emergencies that can be prevented or must be treated through coordinated care.

Sepsis is one of the most costly diseases in healthcare. Taking the steps necessary to help our patients avoid or minimize its effects is paramount. In the first year of the initiative alone, more than 2,000 patients were enrolled in the Code Sepsis initiative. During the same time, patient mortality decreased to 17 percent, equal to 80 patient lives saved. Thirty-day hospital readmission decreased 4.3 percent, equal to 45 prevented readmissions.

Carolinas HealthCare System is one of six Sepsis Heroes – and the only health organization – named this year by patient advocacy group the Sepsis Alliance.