Sepsis Clinical Care Standard

The Sepsis Clinical Care Standard ensures that a patient presenting with signs and symptoms of sepsis receives optimal care, from symptom onset through to discharge from hospital and survivorship care.

The national standard was released by the Commission on 30 June 2022.


Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs.

The Sepsis Clinical Care Standard will help to ensure sepsis is recognised early and patients receive coordinated, best-practice care so that the risk of death or ongoing morbidity is reduced. This includes timely recognition of sepsis, early and appropriate antimicrobial therapy and continuity of care from the acute setting through to discharge and survivorship.

Publication, report or update

National launch and webcast

The Sepsis Clinical Care Standard was launched via webcast on Thursday, 30 June 2022. Broadcaster and commentator Julie McCrossin AM, led an engaging discussion about the early recognition of sepsis and rapid assessment and treatment, and post-sepsis syndrome, with expert panellists:

  • Dr Carolyn Hullick – Clinical Director, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and Emergency Physician, Hunter New England Health NSW
  • Professor Simon Finfer AO – Professorial Fellow in the Critical Care Division at The George Institute for Global Health, Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales and Chair of Critical Care, School of Public Health, Imperial College London
  • Associate Professor Paula Lister – Director Paediatric Critical Care, Sunshine Coast University Hospital QLD and Medical Co-Chair, Queensland Paediatric Sepsis Program
  • Dr Lorraine Anderson Medical Director, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, WA.

The standard was launched by Professor Villis Marshall AC, Chair of the Board of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

The presentation slides from the launch of the standard are also available for download:

Communications resources

A communications kit has been developed to support the release of the clinical care standard. Download and share the content on your website, social networks or within your health service organisation.

Contents of the standard and resources

The Sepsis Clinical Care Standard contains: 

The clinical care standard provides guidance for consumers, clinicians, and healthcare services including information about what each statement means, and a series of implementation resources.

Implementation resources

Several resources have been developed to support the implementation of the Sepsis Clinical Care Standard. These include guidance around the use of antimicrobials and lactate, patient information resources, and discharge planning tools and resources. A number of case studies illustrate best practice and innovation in sepsis care. Stay tuned for more resources including podcasts, and slide decks discussing key aspects of the Sepsis Clinical Care Standard.

You can also find links to relevant related resources, including sepsis resources from states and territories around Australia.

Consultation and endorsement

The standard was developed in  consultation with a topic working group of clinicians, researchers and consumers. Public consultation on the clinical care standard was carried out between August and September 2021. The standard has been endorsed by 26 key professional associations and consumer organisations including the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), the College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand (CICM), the Council of Remote Area Nurses (CRANAplus), the Australian Sepsis Network (ASN) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

Evidence base

Further information is available on the evidence base which underpins the Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, and the rapid literature and evidence review commissioned to inform the standard’s development.


Sepsis is considered a major cause of morbidity and mortality. In 2017, there were 55,251 cases of sepsis in Australia and 8,702 sepsis-related deaths in people of all ages. In Australia, the direct hospital cost of sepsis to the healthcare system is approximately $700 million per year, with indirect costs of more than $4 billion per year including children and adults.

The Sepsis Clinical Care Standard was developed as one of eight components of the National Sepsis Program. The National Sepsis Program aims to improve early recognition, treatment, outcomes and post-discharge support for people at risk of, or diagnosed with, sepsis in Australia. The George Institute for Global Health has partnered with the Commission to develop and implement this work. Establishing a nationally recognised clinical standard of care for sepsis was a key recommendation in the Stopping Sepsis: A national action plan report.

The clinical care standard has been developed to address the need for national clinical guidance to support improvements in the delivery of sepsis care in healthcare services. Some state and territory health departments in Australia have developed and maintained sepsis pathways or guidelines, outlining the time-critical management for suspected sepsis. These pathways have demonstrated substantial improvements in care such as:

  • Safer Care Victoria’s Think sepsis. Act fast’ collaboration, which reduced inpatient sepsis-related mortality by 50% (from 11.4% to 5.8%)
  • New South Wales (NSW) Clinical Excellence Commission’s SEPSIS KILLS! program, which increased the administration of intravenous antimicrobials within 60 minutes of triage from 29.3% in 2009–2011 to 52.2% in 2013
  • Clinical Excellence Queensland’s Queensland Sepsis Program – Could this be sepsis?, which reduced the need for intensive care unit admissions, without adversely influencing antimicrobial prescribing.

More on Sepsis at the Commission

Contact us

If you have any questions about the Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, please email

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