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Saving lives through early recognition and management of sepsis

Saving lives through early recognition and management of sepsis

Safer Care Victoria has released tools to aid with early recognition and management of sepsis for emergency departments and urgent care centres.

The resources include a step-by-step guide to implementing sepsis recognition and management pathways, examples of measures to track, quality improvement tools, a data collection chart, a run chart template, poster and lanyard examples, and an educational presentation.

Sepsis is a medical emergency and occurs when the body has an extreme response to an infection. It can lead to organ failure and death if not treated promptly. The in-hospital mortality rate is estimated to be about 25 per cent globally.

In 2016-17 in Victoria, 28,872 patients were diagnosed with sepsis and 3,258 of these patients died, a mortality rate of 11 per cent. Sepsis accounts for a significant proportion of intensive care unit admissions in Australia and New Zealand.

Better Care Victoria introduced consistent sepsis treatment to 12 emergency department and 20 urgent care centres in 2018, after working with 30 other emergency departments.

The project resulted in:

  • 88 per cent improved recognition of sepsis at triage
  • 58 per cent improvement in timely administration of intravenous antibiotics
  • 43 per cent decrease in transfer to a higher level of care (inter-hospital transfer or transfer to ICU/high dependency unit).

As sepsis is time critical, frontline clinicians need to know how to recognise sepsis and initiate appropriate care.

The package of resources incorporates successes and lessons from Safer Care Victoria’s ‘sepsis bundle of care’ project, conducted in Victorian emergency departments in 2016 and 2017 and expanded in 2018 to urgent care centres.

The sepsis bundle of care consists of six key actions in 60 minutes:

  1. Oxygen administration
  2. Two sets of blood cultures
  3. Venous blood lactate
  4. Fluid resuscitation
  5. Intravenous antibiotics
  6. Monitoring observations.

A study by the University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre found that a standardised sepsis pathway supported early recognition of sepsis and prompt treatment.