GWH celebrates success in tackling Sepsis

Posted: September 4, 2014

A year of achievements in fighting the condition

With World Sepsis Day this Saturday 13 September GWH is celebrating a year on from the launch of their life saving campaign to tackle the condition.

Sepsis, previously known as septicaemia or blood poisoning, is the body's reaction to an infection where it attacks its own organs and tissues. It can start from any minor infection, such as a chest or urine infection or an infected bite or wound and is difficult to diagnose.

It claims over 37,000 lives a year in the UK; but despite claiming more lives than breast and bowel cancer combined, awareness of the condition is low.

To mark World Sepsis Day last year the hospital began work to raise awareness of the condition amongst staff and the public, and also launched 'The Sepsis Six'.  A set of six internationally recognised clinical interventions performed within the first hour of severe sepsis being diagnosed.

These simple interventions, including prescribing antibiotics, giving patients oxygen and intravenous fluids, have made a big impact helping to increase survival by up to 30 per cent.

Part of the work by hospital has also involved bringing in a dedicated Sepsis Nurse (funded by the hospital's charity Brighter Futures)

Nic Lythell Sepsis Nurse

Nic Lythell, Sepsis Nurse said: "As the Sepsis Nurse, my aim is to identify cases of Sepsis as quickly as possible.  I provide education and training to help doctors and nurses manage and treat the condition, and when severe sepsis has been identified I can be a hands-on resource to achieve the Sepsis Six treatment within an hour.

With sepsis the sooner treatment begins the better the outcome is; if is not treated within six hours it can be fatal. Treatment within the 'golden' first hour reduces the severity of sepsis and the need for a patient to be moved to intensive care.  It also reduces the risk of morbidity - the degree that sepsis has affected the patient - and mortality."

Since the campaign GWH has seen mortality rates drop from 63 to 25 per cent in Swindon since February.

The average length of stay in hospital for patients with sepsis has also reduced by a day, with patients being treated quicker and recovering better.

Amanda Pegden, Consultant Physician who has spearheaded the campaign said:  "I am delighted with the success we have had in tackling sepsis at GWH in the last year and the enthusiasm from staff has been really inspiring.  The Sepsis Six tool is becoming embedded into the hospital and awareness has improved. 

We are getting more patients treated quicker which has improved patient outcomes.  Despite the success however, we are not complacent and myself and the Trust's Sepsis Working Group which I chair, will continue to push on with the campaign identifying areas where more work is needed. 

This includes continuing our work on adopting international best practice in the way we diagnose, treat and care for patients with sepsis.  We have also been sharing learning with neighbouring Trusts to ensure we are working to the same aim and doing things the same way.  

Raising awareness amongst the public is still vitally important so people are able to spot the signs of sepsis, and treatment can begin sooner. Speed really does save lives."

GWH is urging the public to look out for the symptoms of sepsis, which usually develop quickly:  

  • a fever or high temperature over 38C (100.4F)
  • chills
  • fast heartbeat or breathing
  • you feel dizzy when you stand up
  • confusion or disorientation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • cold, clammy and pale skin.

The group is urging the public to look out for the symptoms of sepsis, which usually develop quickly: 

  • a fever or high temperature over 38C (100.4F)
  • chills
  • fast heartbeat or breathing
  • you feel dizzy when you stand up
  • confusion or disorientation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • cold, clammy and pale skin.

If you notice signs of infection seek advice from your GP, local walk-in centre or a local pharmacist.

To learn more about sepsis visit the UK Sepsis Trust.

 Sepsis trust

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