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Making the journey safe: recognising and responding to severe sepsis in accident and emergency
  1. Sarah Pinnington,
  2. Brigid Atterton,
  3. Sarah Ingleby
  1. Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sarah Pinnington sarah.pinnington{at}


Severe sepsis is a clinical emergency. Despite the nationwide recognition of the sepsis six treatment bundle as the first line emergency treatment for this presentation, compliance in sepsis six provision remains inadequately low. The project goals were to improve compliance with the implementation of the Sepsis Six in patients with severe sepsis and/or septic shock. In improving timely care delivery it was anticipated improvements would be made in relation to patient safety and experience, and reductions in length of stay (LoS) and mortality. The project intended to make the pathway for those presenting with sepsis safe and consistent, where sepsis is recognised and treated in a timely manner according to best practice.

The aim of the project was to understand the what the barriers where to providing safe effective care for the patient presenting with severe sepsis in A&E. Using the Safer Clinical Systems (SCS) tools developed byte Health Foundation and Warwick University, the project team identified the hazards and associated risks in the septic patient pathway. The level of analysis employed enabled the project team to identify the major risks, themes, and factors of influence within this pathway. The analysis identified twenty nine possible interventions, of which six were chosen following option appraisal. Further interventions were recommended to the accident and emergency as part of a business case and further changes in process.

Audits identified all severely septic patients presenting to A&E in October 2014 (n=67) and post intervention in September 2015 (n=93). Compared analysis demonstrated an increase in compliance with the implementation of the sepsis six care bundle from 7% to 41%, a reduction in LoS by 1.9 days and a decrease in 30 day mortality by 50%. Additional audit reviewed the management of 10 septic patients per week for the duration of the project to assess the real time impact of the selected interventions.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See:

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