The ‘Think sepsis. Act fast’ scaling collaboration brought teams from 11 Victorian health services together to improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with sepsis through earlier identification and management.

The 2017–18 project focused on creating sustainable, continuous improvement through a 12-month collaborative model of learning. Participating health services used a toolkit developed by the Royal Melbourne Hospital to implement a sepsis clinical pathway. They were also supported by the project lead and clinical lead who were instrumental in developing and implementing the Sepsis Improvement Project at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2016–17 (see below).

The sepsis clinical pathway helped health service staff identify and manage sepsis earlier and more consistently. As a result, over four months of implementation, the program: 

  • saved 52 lives
  • avoided 96 intensive care unit (ICU) admissions
  • reduced total hospital length of stay by more than 3,780 bed days
  • saved $11.7 million based on reduced length of stay and reduction in cost
  • demonstrated a six-fold return on investment.

Full program results can be found in the evaluation report below.

Participating health services

The following 11 Victorian health services participated in the 2017–18 collaboration:

  • 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

Other sepsis work

Safer Care Victoria's Emergency Care Clinical Network (ECCN) implemented a sepsis bundle of care across 32 Victorian emergency departments (ED) and urgent care centres (UCC). 

All hospitals that participated in the ‘Think sepsis. Act fast.’ scaling collaboration were involved in the first ECCN roll out in 2015–16, then continued to work towards a whole-of-hospital approach in 2018–19.

Both projects were connected through formal governance arrangements within Safer Care Victoria. 

For more information on the ED and UCC sepsis bundle, visit the Emergency Care Clinical Network projects page.

Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming sepsis work.

Background

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 per cent.

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 and funded through the 2016–17 Better Care Victoria (BCV) Innovation Fund, the Sepsis Improvement Project adapted and scaled a sepsis clinical pathway across the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The pathway was developed at the 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 60 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

Find out more

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