Background and Goals

Last modified by Lisa Stromquist on 2016/05/09 21:55


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This site is intended to support the work of the Sepsis Community of Practice (CoP).  Members can post information under the various headings, create new content and pages and comment on existing work.

The CAPHC Sepsis Community of Practice (CoP) represents a group of professionals, informally bound to one another, faced with similar challenges trying to improve screening processes, recognition and treatment of sepsis in the paediatric population.  Working as a national community of practice allows for sharing of knowledge, experience, expertise and resources to find solutions. Using inclusive, consensus based problem solving and decision making, the development of national guidelines and strategies for quality improvement become more relevant to the continuum of paediatric health care. 


For more information or to become involved in the Sepsis CoP please contact

Lisa Stromquist


Sepsis, also known as septicaemia, is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs.  In children the signs and symptoms of sepsis can present quickly and can rapidly deteriorate.

In Canada sepsis claims an estimated 9,320 lives every year, representing 10.9% of all deaths occurring in hospitals.  Sepsis is associated with extended hospital stays and considerable health care resource use.    Patients whose sepsis occurred after they were admitted to hospital had 56% higher odds of dying than those diagnosed on admission.  A typical episode of sepsis in Canada results in an average of 9 days longer than the median length of stay for other hospitalizations and 45% of all sepsis patients admitted to ICU in Canada died.  More than 10% of sepsis hospitalizations are for children 4 years of age and under.  The rapid delivery of basic interventions – first-hour antibiotics and intravenous fluids – increases survival rates by up to 50%, and is recognized as international best practice. Unfortunately not enough patients receive these interventions. 

Because sepsis is not discipline specific, no one “owns” it.  This leads to inadequate documentation as a diagnosis or cause of death.  This also means there is not specific follow up for patients who have suffered from sepsis even though the long term effects can be serious, including neurodevelopmental impairments.  


The Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC) Sepsis Community of Practice (CoP) goal is to implement national standards for screening, recognition and treatment of sepsis in the neonatal and paediatric population.   

The initial focus is on screening for paediatric sepsis in the emergency department.

What problems are the Community trying to solve?

  1. Reducing the variability in practice for sepsis screening
  2. The lack of a paediatric specific criteria for sepsis screening
  3. Overcoming the barriers to guideline implementation and practice change
  4. Inconsistent coding, reporting and data collection 

Current project:

The Sepsis CoP has recently developed and piloted a Paediatric Sepsis Screening Tool for use in emergency departments.  We want to encourage and support sepsis screening in emergency departments of all hospitals that serve children and youth.  Implementing new tools is difficult so we also want to identify the barriers to practice change and find solutions to support our quality improvement goals.  To read more about our process for the Sepsis Screening Tool development click here...

Future Goals:  In order to fully understand the impact of sepsis in the context of the Canadian health care system, improved awareness, diagnosis and documentation is required.  Without accurate data the challenge to implement change remains.   The CAPHC-Canadian Paediatric Decision Support Network (CPDSN) and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) have been instrumental in identifying where the CoP might find current data and has uncovered the inconsistencies in identifying sepsis in administrative data.  These variations are due to many factors; incomplete or inaccurate data provided by clinicians, incomplete, inaccurate coding and/or interpretation by the coders. Properly identifying those with a sepsis diagnosis should lead to better quality care and follow up. Similar work is being done globally with the World Health Organization and in the US with the Pediatric Healthcare Information System Database.

Download the CAPHC Paediatric Sepsis Screening Tool

Created by Lisa Stromquist on 2012/11/29 16:23