A strong protocol will accomplish all of the items listed in the severe sepsis bundles. If the protocol designer pays careful attention to the details in the bundles, the protocol will score well on the severe sepsis quality indicators. Hospitals will want to publicize their efforts with regard to improving sepsis care and make the protocol an integral part of their rollout strategy. It is imperative to launch an educational initiative regarding the effort.
Examples of sepsis screening and management protocols are available on the Surviving Sepsis Campaign IHI Web site and are rendered on this page as “Protocol A: Create a protocol and educate users” and as “Prot0col B.” The easiest way to get to that page of the IHI Web site is through the home page link from the Surviving Sepsis Campaign Web site, www.survivingsepsis.org. These highly visual and easy-to-follow pathways exemplify ways to encourage adherence to a protocol. Notice that the “Sepsis Screening Protocol” (p. 25) complies with the terms of the severe sepsis bundles. Posting these types of algorithms prominently in the ED, hospital wards, and ICU, and making them readily available in laminated and PDA format, can have a significant impact on performance improvement programs.
These flow diagrams may be incorporated into lectures and training programs to support your efforts to change care at the bedside. You can adapt the algorithms to fit the needs of your individual institution, but keep in mind the need to comply with the overall structure of the severe sepsis bundles.
Data collection can seem like an onerous duty in any quality improvement project. Nevertheless, it is essential for improvement. Without attention to measurement, how will you know that your efforts are leading to improvement? At most hospitals, the magnitude of the data collection effort will not be huge as it will be relative to the number of severely septic patients cared for in the ICU.
Generally, hospitals report three to four severely septic patients are treated in one week’s time. This means that zero, one, or two severely septic patients’ charts will need to be abstracted each day in an average-size hospital. If abstraction takes between 20–30 minutes per chart, the daily time for this effort may range from 30–90 minutes daily. This relatively small burden is likely to represent an initial challenge to anyone unfamiliar with the organization of the chart and the measurement forms, or tools, used by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign for data collection. In time, however, data collection will become easier as the chart and the tools provided by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign will become more familiar. Bundle implementation and data collection have begun in hospitals throughout Europe, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The measurement tools were created to achieve a uniform system of data gathering, collation, and calculation across hospitals. Without the measurement tools, teams armed with only the concepts in the severe sepsis bundles would need to decide how to gather data from charts and put it in a format consistent with the calculations listed in the severe sepsis quality indicators. If any hospital were to undertake such a task on its own, it would quickly find that its results were not comparable across institutions because scores of other hospitals would have derived their results by entirely different means.
The Surviving Sepsis Campaign aims to make using the measurement tools as easy as possible for those involved in collecting data. Several basic tools organize data from the patient’s chart. Initially, a paper set of measurement tools was developed to help hospitals orchestrate data collection. Although a database now performs much of the work formerly done on paper, some use of paper tools may be helpful.