Thursday, 13 September 2012
NHS Wales staff are taking new steps to increase awareness of sepsis and act quickly if they think a patient is developing the potentially life-threatening illness.
Sepsis is one of the most common, least recognised illnesses in both the developed and developing world.
Also known as septicaemia, it is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs.
Severe sepsis in the UK alone accounts for 37,000 deaths per year, with an estimated 1,850 of those to be in Wales.
To mark World Sepsis Day (Thursday 13 September, 2012) NHS Wales is joining with healthcare colleagues around the world to raise awareness of sepsis with their colleagues.
“If sepsis isn’t recognised or treated promptly, it can lead to multiple organ failure and death,” says Dr Phil Kloer, Director of Clinical Services, Hywel Dda Health Board and member of the 1000 Lives Plus Faculty advising on prevention of sepsis.
“However, the worst effects of sepsis can be countered with simple treatments, provided it is identified quickly. The sooner treatment is started the lower the risk of death or severe post-sepsis debilitation.”
NHS Wales organisations have been taking the following steps to prevent sepsis:
- All health boards and Velindre Cancer Centre have adopted the National Early Warning Score (known as NEWS), which is a simple system hospital staff are using to assess whether patients are developing potentially life-threatening illnesses. They are also introducing sepsis screening tools, which help identify sepsis in patients at very early stages, meaning life-saving treatment can be given much earlier.
- Patients are being treated with the ‘sepsis six’ care bundle which consists of three quick tests for sepsis and three simple treatments that are proven to combat it.
- Clinicians, managers and patient representatives have taken part in the 1000 Lives Plus Rapid Response to Acute Illness programme. Together they have made significant progress in ensuring the reliability of systems for identifying, escalating and responding to the acute deterioration in patient conditions associated with sepsis.
Sepsis survivor Andrew Roberts, from Rhos-on-Sea, hopes his experience can be used to encourage NHS Wales to raise awareness of sepsis and ensure life saving treatment is given as early as possible.
Mr Roberts contracted sepsis in January 2012 and was treated initially in North Wales
“Sepsis wreaked absolute havoc with me,” says Mr Roberts. “It caused my organs to fail. It put me in absolute danger of dying.”
“I was admitted to intensive care and they were running with my trolley to get me there from the casualty department.”
After Mr Roberts’ condition deteriorated he was moved by high speed ambulance to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester to receive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment so that his blood was oxygenated outside his body.
“I had large cannulas inserted into my neck and a machine replenished the oxygen in my blood. I was unconscious for six days. When I woke up I couldn’t speak or stand.”
Andrew has made a remarkable recovery, including completing a half marathon in May.
He has been working with the Welsh Ambulance Service to introduce a screening tool to identify sepsis when they respond to 999 calls. This will help paramedics to prioritise seriously ill patients and notify hospital staff about patients most at risk.
“I’m supporting World Sepsis Day to help raise awareness among NHS staff,” says Andrew. “It needs to be paramount in people’s minds that when they see a really ill person that person could have sepsis.
“I hope that my experience can be used to make improvements in NHS Wales so that no one else has to go through a similar experience.”
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “Clinical staff in Wales, supported by the 1000 Lives Plus programme, have already made major progress in introducing new ways of working to detect and reduce sepsis.
“The National Early Warning Score has given staff a simple system which enables them to respond quickly to deteriorating patients.
“World Sepsis Day is an opportunity for us to join colleagues around Wales and across the globe in ensuring the tools we have to combat sepsis are used with every patient, everywhere and every time.”
Source: 1000 Lives Plus