GWH staff launch lifesaving campaign against sepsis

Posted: September 9, 2013

Staff celebrate World Sepsis Day on 13 September

The Trust's Sepsis Working Group is working to raise awareness of sepsis among both staff and local people, as despite claiming more lives than breast and bowel cancer combined, awareness of this life threatening condition is low.

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. The sooner treatment begins, the better the outcome and if not treated within six hours it can be fatal. Over 37,000 people lose their lives to sepis each year in the UK.

The Sepsis Working Group, made up of nurses, doctors and pharmacists, have introduced the internationally recognised 'Sepsis Six' to staff across the Trust. Sepsis Six is a package of critical interventions performed within the first hour of severe sepsis being diagnosed. These simple interventions, including antibiotics and intravenous fluids, can increase the patient's chance of survival by up to 30%. The group has also introduced sepsis trolleys so that all medicines and equipment are in one place, which means no time is wasted.

The Trust is also participating in the proMISe clinical trial which compares different treatment approaches in the management of sepsis.

Amanda Pegden, Consultant Physician, at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is leading the campaign: "Severe sepsis is a life threatening condition which affects so many people. In just three months, from October to December last year, 20% of patients in the Intensive Care Unit had severe sepsis - 42 out of 213 patients.

"We are working hard to adopt international best practice in the way we diagnose, treat and care for patients with sepsis and enthusiasm from staff has been really inspiring. We also want to raise awareness among the public to help people spot the signs of sepsis, so treatment can begin sooner. Speed really does save lives."

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

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