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.
In addition to individual consultation, WSHA provides education and training events throughout the year – bringing in local and national experts to share their research and knowledge about best practice.
Know Your Numbers
Track volume of sepsis patients treated by your facility. Data is available through WSHA based on hospital discharge data. Your individual report will display sepsis diagnosis and sepsis mortality by month benchmarked to similar facilities in Washington State. See the Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock Mortality: Definition Sheet.
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.
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.
Research and policy continue to inform clinical practice. Below is important guidance from leading organizations for facilities implementing sepsis care models.
- Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guidelines (SCCM): Applicable to all clinical providers.
- American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP): Guidance on how to implement change in the Emergency Department.
- Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM): Targeted at providers assisting with long-term care and critical illness recovery support.
- The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) created a Sepsis Training Suite including pediatrics sepsis information.
Toolkits and staff resources are freely available from the following sites:
- Sepsis Alliance:
- Sepsis Coordinator Network provides best practice resources and guidance
- Health Research & Educational Trust:
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement:
- Surviving Sepsis Campaign:
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.
- CDC: Get Ahead of Sepsis:
- Sepsis Alliance: