National Sepsis Program

The Commission is undertaking a program of work to improve early recognition, treatment, outcomes and post-discharge support for people at risk of or diagnosed with sepsis in Australia.

National Sepsis Program background

On 13 September 2019, Minister Hunt announced $1.5 million in funding to support improved sepsis outcomes. The Commission has been engaged by the Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) to lead and coordinate the National Sepsis Program through a funding agreement in June 2020. The George Institute for Global Health is working closely with the Commission to develop and implement this work.

The program aims to improve outcomes for people with sepsis in Australia by:

  • Improving the recognition of sepsis in all settings (primary, subacute, acute)
  • Providing clinicians with nationally agreed sepsis clinical guidance materials
  • Strengthening the comprehensive care planning process for sepsis survivors.

Information for consumers

Sepsis is a time-critical medical emergency that arises when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs leading to failure of multiple organs, and death if not recognised and not treated promptly (1). Sepsis can occur in response to various types of infections, including bacterial, viral or fungal infections which are acquired both in community or healthcare settings.

Program Governance

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has invited individuals with relevant clinical skills, experience and health system knowledge to support the work of the National Sepsis Program. Two main committees have been established by the commission to provide guidance, support and advice on different aspects of the national sepsis program.

National Sepsis Program Projects

Under the National Sepsis Program, the Commission is appointed by the Australian Government Department of Health to lead and co-ordinate the following projects:


  1. Li L, Sunderland N, Rathnayake K, Westbrook JI. Epidemiology of Sepsis in Australian Public Hospitals. Sydney: ACSQHC; 2020.
  2. Fleischmann C, Scherag A, Adhikari NK, Hartog CS, Tsaganos T, Schlattmann P, et al. Assessment of Global Incidence and Mortality of Hospital-treated Sepsis. Current Estimates and Limitations. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine. 2016;193(3):259-72.
  3. Arefian H, Heublein S, Scherag A, Brunkhorst FM, Younis MZ, Moerer O, et al. Hospital-related cost of sepsis: A systematic review. The Journal of infection. 2017;74(2):107-17.
  4. Kissoon N, Reinhart K, Daniels R, Machado MFR, Schachter RD, Finfer S. Sepsis in Children: Global Implications of the World Health Assembly Resolution on Sepsis. Pediatric critical care medicine : a journal of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies. 2017;18(12):e625-e7.
  5. Schlapbach LJ, Straney L, Alexander J, MacLaren G, Festa M, Schibler A, et al. Mortality related to invasive infections, sepsis, and septic shock in critically ill children in Australia and New Zealand, 2002-13: a multicentre retrospective cohort study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2015;15(1):46-54.
  6. Schlapbach LJ, Thompson K, Finfer SR. The WHO resolution on sepsis: what action is needed in Australia? The Medical journal of Australia. 2019.
  7. Finfer S, Bellomo R, Lipman J, French C, Dobb G, Myburgh J. Adult-population incidence of severe sepsis in Australian and New Zealand intensive care units. Intensive Care Medicine. 2004;30(4):589-96.
  8. Fullerton JN, Thompson K, Shetty A, Iredell JR, Lander H, Myburgh JA, et al. New sepsis definition changes incidence of sepsis in the intensive care unit. Critical care and resuscitation: journal of the Australasian Academy of Critical Care Medicine. 2017;19(1):9-13.
  9. Heldens M, Schout M, Hammond NE, Bass F, Delaney A, Finfer SR. Sepsis incidence and mortality are underestimated in Australian intensive care unit administrative data. The Medical journal of Australia. 2018;209(6):255-60.
  10. Ostrowski JA, MacLaren G, Alexander J, Stewart P, Gune S, Francis JR, et al. The burden of invasive infections in critically ill Indigenous children in Australia. The Medical journal of Australia. 2017;206(2):78-84.
  11. Kaukonen KM, Bailey M, Suzuki S, Pilcher D, Bellomo R. Mortality related to severe sepsis and septic shock among critically ill patients in Australia and New Zealand, 2000-2012. Jama. 2014;311(13):1308-16.
  12. Ou L, Chen J, Burrell T, Flabouris A, Hillman K, Bellomo R, et al. Incidence and mortality of postoperative sepsis in New South Wales, Australia, 2002-2009. Critical care and resuscitation: journal of the Australasian Academy of Critical Care Medicine. 2016;18(1):9-16.
  13. Davis JS, Cheng AC, McMillan M, Humphrey AB, Stephens DP, Anstey NM. Sepsis in the tropical Top End of Australia's Northern Territory: disease burden and impact on Indigenous Australians. The Medical journal of Australia. 2011;194(10):519-24.
Publication, report or update
Publication, report or update