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The epidemiology of adults with severe sepsis and septic shock in Scottish emergency departments


Background The Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) promotes a bundle approach to the care of septic patients to improve outcome. Some have questioned the capability of delivering the bundle in emergency departments (EDs). The authors report the epidemiology and 6 h bundle compliance of patients with severe sepsis/septic shock presenting to Scottish EDs.

Methods Analysis of the previously reported Scottish Trauma Audit Group sepsis database was performed including 20 mainland Scottish EDs. A total of 308 910 attendances were screened (between 2 March and 31 May 2009), and 5285 of 27 046 patients were identified after case note review and included on the database. This analysis includes patients who had severe sepsis/septic shock before leaving the ED. Epidemiological, severity of illness criteria, and ED management data were analysed.

Results 626 patients (median age 73; M/F ratio 1:1; 637 presentations) met entrance criteria. The median number of cases per site was 16 (range 3–103). 561 (88.1%) patients arrived by ambulance. The most common source of infection was the respiratory tract (n=411, 64.5%) The most common physiological derangements were heart rate (n=523, 82.1%), respiratory rate (n=452, 71%) and white cell count (n=432, 67.8%). The median hospital stay was 9 days (IQR 4–17 days). 201 (31.6%) patients were admitted to critical care within 2 days, 130 (20.4%) directly from the ED. 180 patients (28.3%) died. There was poor compliance with all aspect of the SSC resuscitation bundle.

Conclusions Sepsis presentations are of variable frequency but have typical epidemiology and clinical outcomes. SSC bundle resuscitation uptake is poor in Scottish EDs.

  • Audit
  • care systems
  • clinical care
  • emergency department
  • infection
  • diagnosis
  • thromboembolic disease

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