Early identification and treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock improves outcomes. We sought to identify and evaluate children with possible sepsis on a pediatric medical/surgical unit through successful implementation of a sepsis identification pathway.
The sepsis identification pathway, a vital sign screen and subsequent physician evaluation, was implemented in October 2013. Quality improvement interventions were used to improve physician and nursing adherence with the pathway. We reviewed charts of patients with positive screens on a monthly basis to assess for nursing recognition/physician notification, physician evaluation for sepsis, and subsequent physician diagnosis of sepsis and severe sepsis/septic shock. Adherence data were analyzed on a run chart and statistical process control p-chart.
Nursing and physician pathway adherence of >80% was achieved over a 6-month period and sustained for the following 6 months. The direction of improvements met standard criteria for special causes. Over a 1-year period, there were 963 admissions to the unit. Positive screens occurred in 161 (16.7%) of these admissions and 38 (23.5%) of these had a physician diagnosis of sepsis, severe sepsis, or septic shock. One patient with neutropenia and septic shock had a negative sepsis screen due to lack of initial fever.
Using quality improvement methodology, we successfully implemented a sepsis identification pathway on our pediatric unit. The pathway provided a standardized process to identify and evaluate children with possible sepsis requiring timely evaluation and treatment.