Merit Health Wesley first in state to achieve sepsis care certification


Know the risks. Spot the signs. Act fast. Merit Health Wesley has worked for the past few years to integrate evidence-based clinical practices into the medical management of sepsis and reduce risk in the community by educating the public about the illness. 

Merit Health Wesley is the first in Mississippi to achieve The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Sepsis Care.

“This achievement is a symbol of quality that reflects our hospital’s ongoing commitment to providing safe and effective patient care,” said Debbie Johnson, vice president of quality and clinical transformation and patient safety officer. “We endeavor to provide the highest quality of sepsis care through a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to sepsis management and long term recovery.”

Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection and is a life-threatening medical emergency. 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.  In the U.S. each year, more than 1.7 million people have sepsis, and it’s the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Many of these sepsis cases start outside of the hospital setting.

The sepsis management team at Merit Health Wesley has reduced the risk of sepsis by limiting the progression of sepsis. They are focusing on early diagnosis and rapid, efficient and effective treatment. Key elements of the hospital’s process are medical staff-approved sepsis protocols, a team approach with focused patient handoffs, regular reviews of designed process compliance, and accountability meetings to review outcomes. Merit Health Wesley chose to authenticate their best practices and process improvements by pursuing certification.

Since as many as 87 percent of sepsis cases start in the community, Merit Health Wesley has also implemented a community outreach and education plan. Patients and their families, nursing homes, emergency management staff and other care providers are educated to increase their awareness of sepsis and common early warning signs, as well as, evidenced based standards of care for rapid treatment, all key to improved outcomes and survival.