Existing sepsis quality improvement initiatives focus on recognition and treatment of sepsis upon hospital admission. Yet many patients are evaluated in the clinic within 1 day of sepsis hospitalization.
To determine the circumstances of clinic visits that precede sepsis hospitalization, including illness severity, whether patients are referred to the hospital, and time lapse and change in illness severity between clinic and hospital evaluation.
In a retrospective cohort study at a tertiary academic medical center, data from electronic medical records were collected for all adult patients evaluated in an outpatient clinic within 1 day of sepsis hospitalization in 2017.
Of 1450 patients hospitalized with sepsis, 118 had an established outpatient provider and a clinic visit within 1 day of admission and thus were included. During the clinic visit, 47 patients (39.8%) had a quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score ≥1, and 59 (50.0%) had vital sign abnormalities. Most (74, 62.7%) were sent directly to the emergency department or hospital. Upon emergency department/hospital presentation, 62 patients (52.5%) had a worsening qSOFA score and/ or vital signs and 27 (22.9%) had worsening of multiple parameters. Median time lapse from clinic to emergency department/hospital evaluation was 3.2 hours.
One in 10 patients hospitalized for sepsis had been evaluated in a clinic within 1 day of admission. At that clinic visit, most patients had an elevated qSOFA score or abnormal vital signs and a majority were sent directly to the emergency department/hospital. Half experienced clinical deterioration between the clinic visit and arrival in the emergency department/hospital.