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Department of Health: Mortality Rates for Sepsis Have Decreased in Pennsylvania, More Work Needed

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Health officials today applauded the work being done in the state to combat sepsis and emphasized the need for evidence-based protocols in all hospitals and increased awareness surrounding this condition.

“Sepsis was the second most common reason for hospitalization in the state last year,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “However, as hospitalizations for sepsis have increased, hospital mortality rates have decreased. This lets us know that we are doing a better job of diagnosing sepsis and decreasing mortality.”

Sepsis is a blood infection that attacks the body’s own tissues and organs. It happens when an infection you already have, either in your skin, lungs, urinary tract, or somewhere else, triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. If left untreated, sepsis can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

Pennsylvania’s medical professionals are battling sepsis through several different methods, including early detection; best practices; new initiatives; comprehensive education; and defined data and analytics.

“Even though we are making progress in battling sepsis, there is still a lot of work to be done,” Dr. Levine said. “We are continuously working to find ways to increase awareness and treatment of this disease, which is why it is essential that all hospitals have evidence-based protocols in place. We are committed to protecting the health and well-being of all residents by continuing to create a greater public understanding about this disease, while encouraging individuals to advocate for and self-educate about key preventative strategies to combating sepsis.”

There are four ways to get ahead of sepsis:

· Prevent infections – talk to your doctor or nurse about the proper steps you can take to prevent infections that can lead to sepsis. It is essential that you take good care of chronic conditions and get the recommended vaccines

· Practice good hygiene – remember to wash your hands and keep cuts clean and covered until they are healed

· Know the signs and symptoms – it is imperative that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis. Signs may include a high heart rate or a fever, shivering or feeling very cold. Symptoms of sepsis may include a combination of feeling confused or disoriented, having shortness of breath, being in extreme pain or having clammy or sweaty skin.

· Act fast – get medical care immediately if you think you have sepsis or have an infection that is not getting better or is getting worse.

In October 2016, the Department of Health convened hospital leaders from across the commonwealth for a conference devoted to sepsis awareness and treatment. Since that inaugural conference, the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania has continued to bring together healthcare providers and researchers annually to disseminate best practices for addressing sepsis.

More information on sepsis can be found on the Department of Health’s website at or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783, or

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