Evaluating the implementation and outcomes of a sepsis pathway in the emergency department

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AIM: Early recognition and timely management, including prompt administration of antibiotics, has been fundamental in improving the mortality related to sepsis. We aimed to study the effect of the Sepsis Pathway Programme, a set of guidelines for sepsis, on the recognition, early investigation and management of septic patients in the emergency department. METHODS: We conducted a comparative prospective cohort study of patients who presented with suspected sepsis pre- and post-implementation of the Sepsis Pathway. Patients where the Sepsis Pathway was used were identified and followed prospectively to analyse outcomes. This group was compared to a pre-intervention control group who were identified retrospectively before the Sepsis Pathway was implemented to determine if there was any difference in outcomes. RESULTS: A total of 109 patients were identified to be septic in the emergency department following the implementation of the Sepsis Pathway. Of these, 52 cases involved the initiation and completion of the Sepsis Pathway. One hundred and fifty-seven cases were identified in the pre-intervention group of which 18 cases were excluded. The time to antibiotic administration decreased from 182 to 75 minutes (p<0.00001). The proportion of cases where antibiotics were given within the hour was higher in the pathway group (36.5% vs 8.6%, OR 6.09, 95% CI 2.69-13.81, p<0.0001). Similarly, the time to lactate measurement decreased from 64 minutes to 54.5 minutes (p=0.0117) and the proportion of cases where lactate was measured improved from 64% to 92.3% (p=0.0005). Blood culture rates improved from 79.1% to 100%. CONCLUSION: The implementation of the Sepsis Pathway improved time taken to perform investigations and manage patients with sepsis. Although it had improved, there was still a delay in recognition of sepsis and initiation of investigations and management, demonstrating that further strategies need to be employed to reduce poor outcomes associated with sepsis. However, it did not affect ICU admissions, length of stay or mortality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalNew Zealand Medical Journal
Issue number1520
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2020

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