Sepsis campaign is a real life-saver

Monday September 7, 2015

Doctors and nurses at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are marking World Sepsis Day (13 September) with the launch of a new awareness campaign aimed at helping clinicians to recognise and treat this potentially life-threatening condition more quickly.

Sepsis is a common problem that is responsible for an estimated 37,000 deaths and 100,000 hospital admissions in the UK each year – nationwide, one person dies of sepsis every 14 minutes.

The condition is caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection, which reduces blood supply to major organs such as the kidneys, liver, lungs and brain, causing them to begin to fail.

Early intervention has a huge impact on outcomes for patients with sepsis, so it’s vital we give our staff the skills and confidence to recognise the condition immediately and then to act fast whenever they see it.

Sepsis responds well to early intervention, but it can be very difficult to recognise and for every hour that the administration of antibiotics is delayed the risk of the patient dying increases by 8%.

Staff at Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s in Chichester are holding a special Sepsis Week beginning on Monday 7 September and running until World Sepsis Day on Sunday 13 September, to raise awareness of the problem and highlight the steps the Trust is taking to enable faster diagnosis and treatment.

The two hospitals’ Accident & Emergency departments are using a new sepsis screening tool to help doctors check for signs of the condition and then get patients affected the antibiotics and treatment they need inside an hour of diagnosis.

The Trust has also been running a series of on-the-spot training sessions for clinical staff to help them recognise the early signs of sepsis. Using a hi-tech simulation dummy placed in A&E, staff are exposed to the recorded data from a real patient who was admitted with sepsis so they can train in a near-live situation.

Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Richard Venn said: “Early intervention has a huge impact on outcomes for patients with sepsis, so it’s vital we give our staff the skills and confidence to recognise the condition immediately and then to act fast whenever they see it.

“Training and screening are central to that but, because sepsis can be hard to spot, half the battle is actually having the presence of mind to consider it as a possibility when assessing a patient, which is why these activities to raise awareness are so important too.”

Clinicians involved in the sepsis campaign will be running a number of activities around the hospitals during the week, including stalls, posters and leaflets, the deployment of ‘sepsis champions’ to promote awareness throughout wards and departments, and even a board game that helps staff learn to recognise the warning signs.

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