Effects of external inspection on sepsis detection and treatment: a study protocol for a quasiexperimental study with a stepped-wedge design
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Introduction: Inspections are widely used in health care as a means to improve the health services delivered to patients. Despite their widespread use, there is little evidence of their effect. The mechanisms for how inspections can promote change are poorly understood. In this study, we use a national inspection campaign of sepsis detection and initial treatment in hospitals as case to: (1) Explore how inspections affect the involved organizations. (2) Evaluate what effect external inspections have on the process of delivering care to patients, measured by change in indicators reflecting how sepsis detection and treatment is carried out. (3) Evaluate whether external inspections affect patient outcomes, measured as change in the 30-day mortality rate and length of hospital stay.
Methods and analysis: The intervention that we study is inspections of sepsis detection and treatment in hospitals. The intervention will be rolled out sequentially during 12 months to 24 hospitals. Our effect measures are change on indicators related to the detection and treatment of sepsis, the 30-day mortality rate and length of hospital stay. We collect data from patient records at baseline, before the inspections, and at 8 and 14 months after the inspections. We use logistic regression models and linear regression models to compare the various effect measurements between the intervention and control periods. All the models will include time as a covariate to adjust for potential secular changes in the effect measurements during the study period. We collect qualitative data before and after the inspections, and we will conduct a thematic content analysis to explore how inspections affect the involved organisations.