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Prevent, Identify & Treat Sepsis

September 4th, 2019

Each year, at least 1.7 million adults in the U.S. develop sepsis, the body’s extreme response to an infection, and nearly 270,000 Americans die as a result of sepsis*.

Sepsis happens when an infection you already have — in your skin, lungs, urinary tract or somewhere else — triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. Without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. And, in most cases, sepsis occurs even before the patient is admitted to the hospital.

Gold seal from joint comissionEarlier this year Mercy Medical Center, a member of Catholic Health Services, became the first hospital in New York state to receive The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Sepsis Care. The Gold Seal reflects Mercy’s commitment and dedication to providing the highest standard in sepsis care. Mercy has been working on implementing a robust sepsis care program for the last several years. The program integrated evidence-based clinical practices into the medical management of sepsis and reduced risk in the community by educating our clinical staff and the public about the illness.

Emily McMahon, RN, sepsis coordinator at Mercy, is part of the committee that oversees the Mercy Sepsis Program, and underscores the importance of sepsis education and awareness. She offers the following tips on how to prevent, identify and treat sepsis - just in time for Sepsis Awareness month (September)! 


  • Scrub the germs off by washing your hands.  Lather your hands with soap and running water, rub your palms, back of hands and between fingers for 20-30 seconds. Rinse and dry well;
  • Exercise caution by staying up-to-date with vaccinations. For example, the seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine, pneumococcal, childhood vaccinations;
  • Take antibiotics, if needed and as directed by your health care provider;
  • Schedule and keep appointments for medical checkups;
  • And seek treatment for possible Infections early.  Therefore, keep cuts clean, dry and covered until healed as any infection can lead to sepsis.

Identify symptoms

  • Shivering, fever, or very cold;
  • Extreme pain or general discomfort (“worst ever”);
  • Pale of discolored skin;
  • Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused;
  • And Shortness of breath.

Treat sepsis

  • Seek treatment immediately from a medical professional;
  • Educate yourself of the symptoms so you are aware of signs;
  • And act fast! Without timely treatment, sepsis can be deadly.

For more information, visit or call 516-62-MERCY/ 516-626-3729.

*According to the CDC