Int J Gen Med. 2023 Mar 21;16:1039-1046. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S400839. eCollection 2023.
PURPOSE: To assess accuracy of early diagnosis, appropriateness and timeliness of response, and clinical outcomes of older general medical inpatients with hospital-acquired sepsis.
METHODS: Hospital abstracts of inpatient encounters from seven digital Queensland public hospitals between July 2018 and September 2020 were screened retrospectively for diagnoses of hospital-acquired sepsis. Electronic medical records were retrieved and cases meeting selection criteria and classified as confirmed or probable sepsis using pre-specified criteria were included. Investigations and treatments following the first digitally generated alert of clinical deterioration were compared with a best practice sepsis care bundle. Outcome measures comprised 30-day all-cause mortality after deterioration, and unplanned readmissions at 14 days after discharge.
RESULTS: Of the 169 screened care episodes, 59 comprised probable or confirmed cases of sepsis treated by general medicine teams at the time of initial deterioration. Of these, 43 (72.9%) had no mention of sepsis in the differential diagnosis on first medical review, and only 38 (64%) were managed as having sepsis. Each care bundle component of blood cultures, serum lactate, and intravenous fluid resuscitation and antibiotics was only delivered in approximately 30% of cases, and antibiotic administration was delayed more than an hour in 28 of 38 (73.7%) cases.
CONCLUSION: Early recognition of sepsis and timely implementation of care bundles are challenging in older general medical patients. Education programs in sepsis care standards targeting nurses and junior medical staff, closer patient monitoring, and post-discharge follow-up may improve patient outcomes.