Background: Globally, severe infection and or sepsis is a problem that is costing billions of dollars, using hundreds of hospital beds, and often results in patient death. Any infection can potentially develop a sepsis health trajectory if left unrecognised and unmanaged.
Methods: We conducted a 12 month retrospective descriptive exploratory study. Our research explored the prevalence and triage characteristics of patients presenting with infection to one tertiary referral hospital. Electronic medical records were reviewed to identify patients that had a primary diagnosis related to infection.
Results: The study identified that 16% (n=7756) of adult presentations had a discharge diagnosis related to infection. A significant difference (X(2)=297.83, df=4, p≤.001) in Triage Code allocation for the infection group was identified compared with the non-infection patient group. Thirty-nine percent (n=3027) of patients with infections were admitted to hospital. Of the patients (n=1930; 4%) admitted to a critical care area, 6% (n=122) had a primary diagnosis related to infection. Of the ED deaths (n=81), 12% (n=10) had a primary diagnosis related to infection.
Conclusion: The study provides a detailed analysis of the prevalence and triage characteristics of patients with infection presenting to one ED. Further research is needed to identify strategies to improve the triage nurse's recognition of severe infection and consistency of urgency code allocation to prevent patient deterioration.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Ltd.