Implementation of the Neonatal Sepsis Calculator in Early-Onset Sepsis and Maternal Chorioamnionitis

Adv Neonatal Care. 2020 Feb;20(1):25-32. doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000668.


Background: Utilization of the neonatal sepsis calculator published by Kaiser Permanente is rapidly increasing. This freely available online tool can be used in assessment of early-onset sepsis (EOS) in newborns 34 weeks' gestation or more based on maternal risk factors and neonatal examination. However, many hospitals lack standard guidelines for its use, leading to provider discomfort with practice change.

Purpose: The goal of this project was to study the antibiotic use rate for EOS at a level III neonatal intensive care unit and create standardized guidelines and staff education for using the sepsis calculator. Our ultimate goal was to decrease antibiotic use for EOS in newborns 34 weeks' gestation or more.

Methods: A standard quality improvement Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) model was utilized with a plan to study the problem, implement the intervention, and test again for improvement. The primary outcome of interest was a decrease in the use of antibiotics for EOS in neonates 34 weeks' gestation or more.

Results: Over a 4-month period, prior to sepsis calculator implementation, antibiotic use for suspected EOS was 11% and blood culture was done on 14.8% of live births. After implementation of the sepsis calculator and completion of the PDSA cycle, sepsis calculator use was greater than 95%, antibiotic use dropped significantly to 5% (P = .00069), and blood culture use dropped to 7.6% (P = .00046).

Implications for practice: Staff education and systematic intervention using a PDSA model can significantly impact patient care, decreasing the administration of antibiotics to infants at risk for sepsis.

Implications for research: Future research is needed to decrease antibiotic use in premature infants less than 34 weeks' gestation with similar risk factors and clinical features.Video Abstract available at

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chorioamnionitis / physiopathology*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Neonatal Nursing / standards*
  • Neonatal Sepsis / diagnosis*
  • Neonatal Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Neonatal Sepsis / physiopathology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / standards*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents