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This was an innovation project supported by the former Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.

Lead organisation

Melbourne Health


Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre


Sepsis is a medical emergency that can result in multiorgan failure and even death. It requires prompt recognition and management to optimise patient outcomes, and variation in practice can potentially put patients at risk.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre developed a whole-of-hospital sepsis pathway in February 2013 which was later adapted for cancer services at Melbourne Health in June 2015 with positive patient outcomes. 

Through its innovation project, Melbourne Health again adapted the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s sepsis pathway, this time implementing it across the Royal Melbourne Hospital to ensure all patients were receiving the highest quality of care every single time.


  • Improve safety and service quality for patients with sepsis by implementing a standardised sepsis pathway which leads to early identification and effective resuscitation of sepsis and septic shock
  • Reduce sepsis-related death
  • Improve use of clinical services – particularly of the ICU – by reducing admissions
  • Reduce sepsis-related length of stay
  • Improve the speed of antibiotic treatment administration
  • Improve the use of appropriate antibiotic therapy
  • Improve clinical staff knowledge in relation to sepsis identification and treatment


  • Developed an evidence-based sepsis clinical pathway that has been used in more than 700 episodes of care
  • Halved the rate of death due to sepsis
  • Reduced ICU admissions by 65.4 per cent
  • Reduced the time from diagnosis to administration of antibiotic treatment by 51.9 per cent
  •  Decreased patients’ hospital length of stay by 42.9 per cent


December 2020 – Due to its success, the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund supported the scaling and spreading of this innovation project. 

Learn more about the ‘Think sepsis. Act fast.’ scaling collaboration.

The program also won the 2018 Australian Council on Healthcare Standards Quality Improvement Award for Clinical Excellence and Patient Safety. 

Project summary

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