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This was a scaling project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.

Lead organisation

Melbourne Health


  • Albury Wodonga Health and its regional partners (Beechworth Health Service, Corryong Health, Northeast Health Wangaratta, Yarrawonga Health)
  • Alfred Health
  • Ballarat Health Services
  • Barwon Health
  • Bendigo Health
  • Eastern Health 
  • Peninsula Health
  • South West Healthcare
  • Swan Hill Health
  • Western Health
  • West Gippsland Health


The ‘Think sepsis. Act fast.’ scaling collaboration brought teams from 11 health services together to improve patient outcomes through earlier identification and management of sepsis.

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to severe infection. It is a medical emergency that can result in multiorgan failure and death. In 2016–17, more than 3,200 of the approximately 28,800 hospital patients who were diagnosed with sepsis died – a mortality rate of 11 per cent. 

In Victorian health services, there is significant variance in sepsis recognition and effective resuscitation practices. This can lead to delays in recognition and appropriate treatment, increasing the chance of illness and death. 

The 2017–18 ‘Think sepsis. Act fast.’ scaling project focused on creating sustainable, continuous improvement through a 12-month collaborative model of learning. Participating health services used a toolkit developed by the Royal Melbourne Hospital to implement a sepsis clinical pathway, which helped health service staff identify and manage sepsis earlier and more consistently. 

They were also supported by the project and clinical leads who helped develop and implement the Sepsis improvement project from which the scaling project arose.

Trial outcomes

In 2016–17, Melbourne Health received support from the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund to adapt and scale a sepsis clinical pathway – which was developed at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in February 2013 – across the Royal Melbourne Hospital. 

The Sepsis improvement project resulted in significant reductions in deaths, length of stay, and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions related to sepsis.


  • Decrease the number of sepsis-related deaths in hospital
  • Decrease the length of stay for patients with sepsis
  • Decrease the rate of sepsis-related ICU admissions


Download the adult sepsis pathway toolkit

  • Saved 52 lives
  • Avoided 96 ICU admissions
  • Reduced total hospital length of stay by more than 3,780 bed days
  • Saved $11.7 million based on reduced length of stay and reduction in cost
  • Demonstrated a six-fold return on investment


June 2019 – Safer Care Victoria implemented a sepsis bundle of care across 32 Victorian emergency departments and urgent care centres. All hospitals that participated in the ‘Think sepsis. Act fast.’ scaling collaboration were involved in the first roll out in 2015–16 then continued to work towards a whole-of-hospital approach in 2018–19.  

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