A first year nursing student who nearly died from sepsis is determined to use her experience to educate others about the condition and has helped organise a ground-breaking training event.
Two years ago Katie Dutton was given a 15% chance of survival after contracting sepsis while in hospital. The experience inspired her to become a nurse and she went on to enrol as a nursing student at De Montfort University (DMU) Leicester.
“I was determined not to let this beat me and make an example of it”
It also made her determined to spread the word about sepsis, which kills around 44,000 people every year in the UK.
“I was determined not to let this beat me and make an example of it, and ensure sure we’re lowering the number of sepsis cases,” said Ms Dutton.
“I wanted to help stop that happening to other patients and hopefully inspire nurses to really read up about sepsis and to have it at the forefront of their mind,” she said.
Together with fellow nursing student Kylie-Ann Johnson, she went on to organise a unique awareness event, which saw more than 100 nursing students trained as “sepsis champions”.
The event, supported by Leicester Royal Infirmary’s accident and emergency sepsis team and DMU’s faculty of health and life sciences, included training on spotting the signs of sepsis.
“Student nurses are the fresh faces of the NHS, they are the ones going out into the hospitals and they have to be confident going out into practice and being able to recognise it,” said Ms Dutton.
“It’s fantastic what Katie has managed to achieve and the response from students has been so good”
In her case, she noted that she was admitted to hospital for a kidney infection when a line became infected.
“Within a week I started to hallucinate, I did not know where I was, and my temperature was 40.1C,” she said.
“The last thing I remember was waiting in a theatre thinking I was going to die. That’s the last thing I remember until I got better,” she said. “My family were at my bedside in the ICU.”
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust was the first in the country to bring in a dedicated sepsis team to support staff on wards.
Trust sepsis nurse Clair Ripley was at the awareness event to talk to the students about the help available to nurses in practice and ways to speed up diagnosis.
“It’s fantastic what Katie has managed to achieve and the response from students has been so good,” she said.
Student nurse who survived sepsis organises awareness event
She added: “Her colleagues are the nurses of tomorrow so it’s vital we tap into them as a resource and it becomes second nature to them to ask the question ‘Could it be sepsis’?”
So many people applied to take part in the training event that it was over-subscribed and a second one is now being held later this year.
“Originally, it was just going to be an event for our cohort but then things spiralled and we had over 210 people apply to come,” said Ms Johnson.
“We are hoping this can become a regular event at DMU and that student nurses feel much more confident now about spotting the signs and raising any issues,” she said.
First year nursing student Tania Kaur said the event was useful ahead of going out on placement.
“There was lots of new information and when I go out on placement in two weeks’ time this is going to be fresh in my mind,” she said.
Richard Postance, senior lecturer in learning disability nursing at DMU, said he was proud of the students’ efforts.
“It has been a brilliant effort. They have worked so hard on this and the feedback from the students has been so positive,” he said.