The impact of a sepsis quality improvement project on neurodisability rates in very low birthweight infants

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Very low birthweight (VLBW; <1500 g) infants with late-onset sepsis (LOS) have an increased risk of neurodisability. Care bundles to reduce bloodstream infections in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are effective in reducing LOS. Our aim was to determine if a sepsis reduction bundle introduced through a quality improvement project would impact neurodevelopmental outcomes in VLBW infants.


Cohort study.


Level 3 regional NICU in the South West of England.


VLBW infants born between 2002 and 2011.


A sepsis reduction care bundle implemented between July 2006 and December 2007.

Main outcome measures

The primary outcome was risk of coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (CONS) infection diagnosed >3 days of age. Secondary outcomes were death and moderate cognitive impairment. A logistic regression model was derived using the birth era as the independent variable with adjustment for typical confounders.


In total, 379 infants were born in the preintervention cohort and 378 in the postintervention cohort. The CONS infection rate was reduced after the intervention (26.7% vs 14.1% p<0.001). Death prior to discharge reduced without reaching statistical significance (14.1% vs10.9%, p=0.195). The rate of cognitive disability reduced in the postintervention cohort (18.8% vs 6.1%, p=0.042). The adjusted ORs (95% CI) for CONS infection, death and cognitive impairment were 0.46 (0.29 to 0.72), 0.73 (0.43 to 1.24) and 0.3 (0.07 to 1.33), respectively.


There appears to be an association between reduced cognitive disability and the implementation of a sepsis reduction bundle. Further study in larger series is required to confirm these findings.

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