New demonstration project marks World Sepsis Day

Sep 13, 2017

Novel partnership with industry looks to enhance sepsis diagnosis, treatment 

(Calgary & Edmonton, Alberta) Alberta physicians will soon be evaluating new laboratory tests for improving the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, a potentially fatal infection that develops in the bloodstream and major organs.

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A four-way partnership has been struck between Alberta Innovates, Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Institute of Health Economics and bioMérieux to improve the way sepsis is managed in the province.

“This partnership represents a new way to interact with industry,” says Dr. Blair O’Neill, Associate Chief Medical Officer with AHS’ Strategic Clinical Networks™ (SCNs). “We struggle to determine which new technologies can help us care for patients for the best cost. Instead of simply looking at what’s available off the shelf, we’ve sought collaboration with our industry partners to tailor a solution for Alberta’s health system.”

AHS, through its SCNs, has identified sepsis as a critical problem. Up to one in five admissions to intensive care units in the province are related to sepsis. Other jurisdictions in Canada have similar numbers.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of a body’s response to an infection. Sepsis occurs when the body’s attempt to fight the infection triggers inflammatory responses throughout the body. If left untreated, this inflammation can lead to damage to multiple organ systems, ultimately causing them to fail.

The sepsis diagnosis tools, VIDAS® B.R.A.H.M.S PCT™, and the rapid Biofire Film Array Panel (BCID), created by bioMérieux, will identify the presence of sepsis and aid in the identification of specific pathogens, helping physicians treat infections faster and more efficiently.

“In the past, doctors would treat sepsis with expensive broad-spectrum antibiotics, hoping to target the right bacteria,” says Dr. Michael Meier, a physician with AHS’ Critical Care SCN. “These new diagnostic tools will allow us to determine if the patient actually has sepsis and then the type of sepsis a patient may have and which antibiotic to best treat the infection.”

There are other benefits besides improved efficiency in choosing the most effective antibiotic. Limiting the range of antibiotics a patient is exposed to helps reduce the risk of them developing opportunistic infections like clostridium difficile, which can move in when a patient’s gut microbiota is thrown out of balance by the arsenal of antibiotics.

Beginning next month, researchers in Edmonton and Calgary will assess whether the diagnostic tests will lead to better treatments, prove cost-effective, and be adaptable to various clinical settings. The evaluations are expected to last between 12 and 18 months. However, it is establishing a better way for our strained health care system to continue to add new technologies to improve patient outcomes and measure their true value.

World Sepsis Day, Sept. 13, is an awareness-raising initiative of the non-profit organization, the Global Sepsis Alliance.

Alberta Innovates is proud to have played a role in bringing the partners to the table. We have created a platform for public-private partnerships that introduce innovative technologies into the healthcare system to fulfill a specific healthcare need in Alberta. Our job is to enable the healthcare ecosystem to improve patient outcomes for Albertans — that is exactly what we did here. I am thrilled to see all the excitement this initiative is generating throughout the Canadian healthcare landscape.Reg Joseph, Alberta Innovates, Vice President of Health

“Full credit to our Strategic Clinical Networks for working through a process whereby we identify critical needs within the health system, and then partner with industry to find solutions,” says Dr. Kathryn Todd, AHS Vice-President Research, Innovation and Analytics. “Our goal is to find ways to more quickly introduce proven innovations across the health system, for the benefit of all Albertans.”

“Unique partnerships like this are essential if we wish to effectively and efficiently address complex health system problems,” adds Dr. Christopher McCabe, Executive Director and CEO of the Institute of Health Economics. “This project serves as a fantastic example of how to optimize health system experts, from all sectors, to discover ways in which we can better treat this and other infectious diseases.”

“Measuring PCT at clinical presentation and serially over 4 days will provide clinicians with high medical value information to help them identify patients who are at greatest risk of mortality and ultimately can result in improved, more targeted and intensified patient care and better medical outcomes,” said Mark Miller, Chief Medical Officer at bioMérieux.