AN early intervention program designed to improve the way Australian emergency departments deal with patients with sepsis has been successful in speeding up the process of treating the potentially fatal condition.
Sepsis is one of the most common causes of clinical deterioration, and was involved in 17.5% of in-hospital deaths in NSW in 2009.
“SEPSIS KILLS is a quality improvement program that aims to reduce preventable harm to patients with sepsis by recognising the condition early and managing it promptly with antibiotics and fluids. The program was introduced into NSW emergency departments from 2011.
A study by a team from the Clinical Excellence Commission in Sydney and the University of New South Wales analysed data from 13,567 patients from the period 2011–2013.
The researchers found the proportion of patients receiving intravenous antibiotics within 60 minutes of triage increased from 29.3% in 2009–2011 to 52.2% in 2013; the percentage for whom a second litre of fluid was started within 60 minutes rose from 10.6% to 27.5%.
The research also showed the number of sepsis patients being treated immediately (Triage 1, 2.3% in 2009 to 4.2% in 2013) or within 10 minutes of arrival (Triage 2, 40.7% in 2009 to 60.7% in 2013) had increased. At the same time, there was a decrease in deaths from 19.3% in 2009–2011 to 14.1% in 2013, and there were also significant declines in time in intensive care and total length of stay.
Since the conclusion of the research, NSW public hospitals have begun extending the SEPSIS KILLS program to inpatient areas and introduced a 48-hour management plan for ward patients.