In Practice

A retrospective study evaluating the efficacy of identification and management of sepsis at a district-level hospital internal medicine department in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, in comparison with the guidelines stipulated in the 2012 Survivi

Raisa Bhikoo, Sarah Versfeld, M M De V Basson, Almero H Oosthuizen


Background. Currently there is little information on the identification, management and outcomes of patients with sepsis in developing countries. Simple cost-effective measures such as accurate identification of patients with sepsis and early antibiotic administration are achievable targets, within reach without having to make use of unsustainable protocols constructed in developed countries.

Objectives. To assess the ability of clinicians at a district-level hospital to identify and manage sepsis, and to assess patient outcome in terms of in-hospital mortality and length of hospital stay given the above management.

Methods. A retrospective descriptive study design was used, analysing data from the routine burden of disease audit done on a 3-monthly basis at Karl Bremer Hospital (KBH) in the Western Cape Province, South Africa.

Results. The total sample size obtained was 70 patients, of whom 18 (25.7%) had an initial triage blood pressure indicative of sepsis-induced hypotension. However, only 1 (5.5%) of these 18 patients received an initial crystalloid fluid bolus of at least 30 mL/kg. The median time that elapsed before administration of antibiotics in septic shock was 4.25 hours. Furthermore, a positive delay in antibiotic administration (p=0.0039) was demonstrated. The data also showed that 8/12 patients (66.7%) with septic shock received inappropriate amounts of fluids. The in-hospital mortality rate for sepsis was 4/24 (16.7%), for severe sepsis 11/34 (32.3%) and for septic shock a staggering 9/12 (75.0%).

Conclusions. The initial classification process and management of sepsis by clinicians at KBH is flawed. This inevitably leads to an increase in in-hospital mortality.


Authors' affiliations

Raisa Bhikoo, Department of Internal Medicine, Karl Bremer Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

Sarah Versfeld, Department of Internal Medicine, Karl Bremer Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

M M De V Basson, Department of Internal Medicine, Karl Bremer Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

Almero H Oosthuizen, Department of Emergency Medicine, Karl Bremer Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

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Efficacy; Sepsis; Identification; Management; Resource-limited setting

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2017;107(8):674-678. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i8.11019

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-07-28
Date published: 2017-07-28

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