Introduction Mortality from severe sepsis can be improved by timely diagnosis and treatment. This study investigates the effectiveness of a comprehensive management protocol for recognition and initial treatment of severe sepsis that spans from the emergency department (ED) to the intensive care unit.
Methods Interventions included development of a management algorithm including early goal-directed therapy, a computerised physician order entry set for suspected sepsis, introduction of invasive haemodynamic monitoring and antibiotics stocked in the ED, and an extensive education campaign involving ED nurses and physicians.
Main results In the 6 months after introduction of the protocol, 37 patients who had severe sepsis were identified in the ED. Compared to a randomly selected group of 37 patients who had severe sepsis and who were transferred directly to the intensive care unit before introduction of the protocol, significant improvements were observed in mean time to initiation of early goal-directed therapy (3.2 vs 10.4 h, p=0.001) and to achievement of resuscitation goals (10.4 vs 30.1 h, p=0.007). There was a trend towards more rapid administration of antibiotics (1.4 vs 2.7 h, p=0.06). This was associated with a decrease in crude hospital mortality rate from 51.4% to 27.0% (absolute risk reduction=24%, 95% CI 3% to 47%). Improvements were sustained in the follow-up audit at 16 months.
Conclusions Introduction of a comprehensive management protocol to address early recognition and management of severe sepsis in the ED is associated with sustained improvements in processes of care.
- Emergency department
- evidence-based medicine
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Funding Other funders: St Paul's Hospital Foundation.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Providence Health Care REB.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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