Sepsis and Septic Shock

Sepsis Information

Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection, also referred to as immune system dysregulation. Septic shock is characterized by significant drop in blood pressure and may lead to organ failure and death. Rapid identification and treatment of sepsis in the emergency department and inpatient setting is critical for reducing sepsis mortality. Knowing the signs and symptoms of sepsis, such as change in temperature, mental decline and extreme pain can help clinical teams determine when to activate sepsis protocols. Hospital implementation of sepsis ordersets, response teams (“code sepsis”) and antibiotic de-escalation are improving mortality and long-term recovery for patients post-sepsis.

Evidence-based protocols for rapid and effective treatment of patients identified with sepsis and septic shock have been effective in improving care and outcomes for patients with sepsis. The Washington State Hospital Association, in an effort to provide additional guidance and support, provides education and training events throughout the year – bringing in local and national experts to share their research and knowledge about best practice.

Getting Started

Know Your Numbers

WSHA has created a number of dashboards to help our members track their sepsis care and outcomes on WSHA’s DASH platform.    The CMS Benchmark dashboard provides hospitals the opportunity to view their SEP-1 compliance data and compare themselves to like facilities in Washington State as well as around the country.  The PNW Pop Sepsis Dashboard utilizes claims data to allow hospitals and health systems to look at their sepsis volume, mortality, transfers, readmissions, pre-admission ED visits, and other sepsis data.   It also allows hospitals and health systems to compare themselves to like facilities in Washington on a number of measures.  Please email if you wish to have access to the DASH platform.

Build a Sepsis Program

The CDC published Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements in August 2023.  This toolkit provides a comprehensive outline of structural and procedural components of a robust hospital sepsis program.  The toolkit provides an assessment tool, examples of ways to implement the Core Elements, and resources to help hospitals improve specific aspects of the their sepsis programs.

Implement Sepsis Protocols

Ensure your hospital is prepared to rapidly identify and treat patients with suspected sepsis.  National guidelines developed by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign recommend treatment begin immediately and will likely involve fluid resuscitation, vasopressors and broad-spectrum antibiotics. Successful implementation includes team-based care, tracking systems and coordination with pharmacists. WSHA provides consultation for developing and implementing sepsis protocols, ensuring timely care and CMS payment.

Plan Transitions

Take care to educate and assist patients preparing to discharge from the hospital following a sepsis event. Sepsis is the most common diagnosis related to readmission, and patients are susceptible to experiencing post-sepsis syndrome. Home assessments, caretaker education and non-clinical support may be needed to prevent readmissions.

Raise Awareness

Early detection of sepsis both in the hospital and in the community are key to saving lives.  There are several toolkits available with resources for educating hospital staff, patients, and families.

Attend a Sepsis Conference


Expert Guidance

Research and policy continue to inform clinical practice. Below is important guidance from leading organizations for facilities implementing sepsis care models.

Implementation Tools

Toolkits and staff resources are freely available from the following sites:

Patient Education

General education for patients regarding sepsis is needed to promote engagement in care planning. The links below provide ready-made tools for patients and caregivers.

Staff Contact

Rosemary Grant

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Washington State Hospital Association
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Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

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