World Sepsis Day sees new patient safety initiative at NNUH
Picture caption: Critical Care Outreach Lead Mary Edwards, , Junior Doctor Ciaran Scott, Improvement Officer Claire Nash, Junior Doctor Genevra Pullinger, Critcial Care Consultant Dr Michael Irvine, and Junior Doctor Fatima Ismail.
On World Sepsis Day (13th September 2016), new Sepsis Emergency Kit bags for treating in-patients with suspected Sepsis will be launched at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as part of a patient safety initiative.
Dr Michael Irvine, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at NNUH, said: “Timely treatment is critical when treating patients for Sepsis as survival rates are improved significantly if antibiotics can be administered within 60 minutes of diagnosis. Patients are also less likely to have serious health complications if we provide prompt treatment. However, Sepsis is more difficult to identify than conditions like heart attacks and strokes, as the symptoms are often more generalised and non-specific.”
“We are taking an innovative approach and providing emergency kit bags for wards which contain the key equipment needed to treat Sepsis fast. Suspected cases will be reported with the same hospital emergency system as that used for a cardiac arrest.
“This will lead to a delivery of the kit bags to the nursing and medical team on the ward who can initiate the ‘Sepsis 6’. These are 6 simple tasks; administering oxygen, taking blood samples for cultures, administering intravenous fluids and intravenous antibiotics and carrying out further checks on blood gas lactate levels and measuring urine output.
“This bundle of 6 tasks helps us to treat the infection causing sepsis effectively and quickly as well as aiding us to identify the cause of the infection and monitor the response of the patient to the treatment.
Dr Irvine added: “When patients are in hospital, we monitor their vital signs and use a scoring system called the early warning score to flag up changes in observations which may indicate their condition is deteriorating. The ward teams can use this Early Warning Score to help identify patients who are developing sepsis and ask for a doctor to review the patient urgently. If the doctor thinks the patient is developing Sepsis they will activate this new Sepsis Emergency pathway. Within hospital, patients will also be supported by the Critical Care Outreach Team if they become acutely unwell, or have an early warning score causing concern. Sometimes patients require a higher level of care on the Critical Care Complex if their Sepsis is severe.”
The new approach is being audited to look for further improvements in patient safety and share learning across the Trust and within the NHS. It is part of a national focus on Sepsis which aims to make the public more aware of the symptoms and improve the care available in hospitals.
Sepsis is more common than heart attacks or strokes and kills 44,000 people each year, more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. It is a life threatening condition which occurs when the body over-reacts to an infection by harming the person’s tissues and organs. It can affect all age groups but certain groups such as the very young or elderly and those who are immuno-suppressed (for example patients having chemotherapy) have a higher risk.
Sepsis can often initially look like flu, a chest infection, a water infection or gastro-enteritis. At home, people should seek medical help urgently if they develop symptoms such as mottled or discoloured skin, rapid breathing, extreme shivering, new confusion, slurred speech or a change in consciousness or passing no or very small amounts of urine in a day. Often patients with sepsis report feeling like ‘they might die”. If patients are concerned they should contact their GP or call NHS 111 for advice and do not be afraid to specifically ask whether this could be Sepsis.”
For more information, visit the UK Sepsis Trust at: http://sepsistrust.org/