What is sepsis?

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to severe infection and can result in multi-organ failure and death. In 2016-17, 28,872 patients were diagnosed with one (or more) of the sepsis diagnosis codes. 3,258 of these patients died during their episode of care, giving an approximate “in-hospital” mortality rate of 11%.

Within health services across Victoria, there is significant variance in practice in relation to sepsis recognition and effective resuscitation, with delayed recognition and initial appropriate treatment increasing mortality and morbidity. 

Sepsis is a medical emergency and early recognition and treatment, can save lives.

The Sepsis Improvement Project 

Led by Melbourne Health, funded through the 2016-17 Better Care Victoria (BCV) Innovation Fund, the Sepsis Improvement Project adapted and scaled up a clinical sepsis pathway across the Royal Melbourne Hospital, that was developed at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in February 2013. 

A clinical pathway and multidisciplinary education package was collaboratively developed to be utilised across all services. The pathway standardised initial sepsis management calling for six actions in the sixty minutes following sepsis recognition: oxygen, two sets of blood cultures, venous blood lactate, rapid fluid resuscitation, appropriate antibiotic administration, and continued monitoring. 

The project resulted in significant improvements in mortality, length of stay, and ICU admissions related to sepsis.

Think sepsis - Act fast

What is the ‘Think sepsis. Act fast.’ Scaling Collaboration? 

Based on a collaborative model of learning, the ‘Think sepsis. Act fast’ Sepsis Scaling Collaboration is a 12-15 month learning system that brings together teams from 11 health services across Victoria for the purpose of seeking sustainable continuous improvement. Health services will implement the sepsis clinical pathway utilising an implementation toolkit developed by the team at Melbourne Health. 

The Collaboration will drive sustainability, with a strong focus on guiding, supporting and encouraging teams, including senior leaders, to actively support and drive the sustainability of the improvements achieved. Outcomes will be shared widely with all health services via the BCV website and the Collaboration’s online forum.

Health services participating in the ‘Think Sepsis. Act Fast’ Scaling Collaboration, will be supported by the project lead and the clinical lead who were instrumental in developing and implementing the Sepsis Improvement Project at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

What are the objectives of the ‘Think sepsis. Act fast.’ Scaling Collaboration?

The aim of the Collaboration is to improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with sepsis through earlier identification and management by applying the sepsis clinical pathway at their service. 

The primary objectives are to: 

  • ensure adherence to a sepsis clinical pathway
  • decrease the rate of inpatient sepsis related mortality
  • decrease hospital median length of stay for sepsis related presentations
  • decrease the rate of sepsis related ICU admissions

The secondary objectives are to:

  • decrease the time to antibiotic provision for sepsis management
  • improve appropriateness of initial antibiotic therapy (according to the clinical pathway and Empiric Antibiotic Guidelines)
  • engage consumers in the management of sepsis

Participating health services

The following 11 Victorian health services are participating:

  • Albury Wodonga Health and regional partners
    • Beechworth Health Service
    • Corryong Health
    • Northeast Health Wangaratta
    • Yarrawonga Health
  • The Alfred
  • Ballarat Health Services
  • Barwon Health
  • Bendigo Health
  • Eastern Health 
  • Peninsula Health
  • South West Healthcare
  • Swan Hill Health
  • West Gippsland Health
  • Western Health

What other sepsis work is happening in Safer Care Victoria?

Safer Care Victoria's Emergency Care Clinical Network (ECCN) are currently implementing a sepsis bundle of care across 32 Victorian emergency departments (ED) and urgent care centers (UCC). All hospitals participating in the Sepsis Scaling Collaboration were involved in the first ECCN roll out in 2015-2016 and are currently building on the successes towards a whole-of-hospital approach.

Both projects are connected through formal governance arrangements within Safer Care Victoria. For more information on the ED and UCC sepsis bundle, please visit Emergency Care Clinical Network Projects.

Find out more

Email the team at bcv@safercare.vic.gov.au or call 03 9096 2761.