To study if a modified triage system at an Emergency Department (ED) combined with educational efforts resulted in reduced time to antibiotics and decreased length of hospital stay (LOS) for patients with severe infection.
A retrospective, observational study comparing patients before and after the start of a new triage model at the ED of a University Hospital. After the implementation of the model, patients with fever and abnormal vital signs were triaged into a designated sepsis line (Sepsis Alert) for rapid evaluation by the attending physician supported by a infectious diseases (IDs) specialist. Also, all ED staff participated in a designated sepsis education before Sepsis Alert was introduced. Medical records were evaluated for patients during a 3-month period after the triage system was started in 2012, and also during the corresponding months in 2010 and 2014.
A total of 1837 patients presented with abnormal vital signs. Of these, 221 patients presented with fever and thus at risk of having severe sepsis. Among patients triaged according to the new model, median time to antibiotics was 58.5 at startup and 24.5 minutes at follow-up two years later. This was significantly less than for patients treated before the new model, 190 minutes. Also, median LOS was significantly decreased after introduction of the new triage model, from nine to seven days.
A triage model at the ED with special attention to severe sepsis patients, led to sustained improvements of time to antibiotic treatment and LOS.
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