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Nurses sing about sepsis to raise awareness at Christmas

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A hospital choir of nurses and other health professionals are hoping to raise awareness of sepsis this Christmas with an innovative reworking of a popular carol.

The singers at Weston Area Health NHS Trust in North Somerset have done a remake of the 12 Days of Christmas, turning it into the “12 Days of Sepsis” instead and posting a video on social media site YouTube.

“We wanted to promote this in a way where staff would be engaged and find it useful in their caregiving”

James Merrell

The hospital choir, called The Sliding Scales, were approached about the idea by James Merrell, the trust’s lead nurse for deteriorating patient and sepsis.

Mr Merrell and a medical colleague then rewrote the lyrics of the song for staff training purposes during the Christmas period and to generally promote sepsis awareness within the trust.

It features such lines as “on the third day of sepsis my doctor took from me: three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee” (see box below for full set of lyrics).

The hospital choir consists of many nurses, doctors and NHS staff from the hospital trust, plus some who have retired, and are currently singing on the wards leading up to Christmas.

Among others, the choir includes eight current nurses – lead cancer nurse Deirdre Brunton, tissue viability nurse Helen Anderson, specialist nurse Theresa Tindall and Debbie Manlow, Sue Baker, Sharon Chitty, Helen Adams and Louise Carstensen.

Mr Merrell said: “We know that sepsis can affect anyone at any age or life stage and is a major cause of avoidable morbidity and mortality.

“Therefore, we have been working really hard training staff, promoting sepsis and using quality improvement methodology to ensure we are recognising and treating sepsis quickly,” he said.

“We want to make sustained improvements across the hospital and are thinking big, but starting small so that we can get this right,” Mr Merrell told Nursing Times.

He said: “We wanted to do something as a team to share some learning and whilst sepsis carries a very serious message, we wanted to promote this in a way where staff would be engaged and find it useful in their caregiving.”

He noted that the choir also played an important role to “deliver some festive cheer to those people who are in hospital and the patients really enjoy this”.

“Making the sepsis video enabled us to do something we have not done before and the response has been well received,” he added.

As well as the choir, the trust is using a sepsis sleigh over the Christmas period to train staff and promote sepsis. The main aim is to further train 100 staff in 12 days.

Weston Area Health NHS Trust

Nurses sing about sepsis to raise awareness at Christmas

The sepsis sleigh

Both initiatives form part of wider efforts to boost awareness at the trust, such as introducing sepsis champions and a sepsis workbook to be completed by clinical staff to form part of appraisals.

Mr Merrell told Nursing Times that the trust was aiming to have 1,000 clinical nursing and medical staff trained in identyfying, treating and escalating sepsis by April.

He said that, between September and November this year, 182 staff had been delivered sepsis training and that number was “growing on a daily basis”.

“We have included training on sepsis to all staff on induction regardless of their role to try and understand the bases of sepsis and how to recognise signs and symptoms,” he said.

He added that the trust was asking staff at to consider using the sepsis screening tool for all patients with a NEWS score of five or more, and or who was suspected to have sepsis or that looked unwell.

Mr Merrell said figures had indicated that significant improvements had taken place in just a few months regarding use of the tool by staff.

An internal audit in August showed less than 10% compliance with the sepsis screening tool. But a randomised audit completed in November showed a 76% compliance with the tool.

The words: 12 Days of Sepsis 

On the first day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: a catheter to measure my wee

On the second day of sepsis my doctor took from me: two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the third day of sepsis my doctor took from me: three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the fourth day of sepsis my doctor took from me: four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the fifth day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: some taaaaaaaaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the sixth day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: six litres of saline, some taaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the seventh day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: seven swabs of my skin, six litres of saline, some taaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the eighth day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: eighty FiO2, seven swabs of my skin, six litres of saline, some taaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the ninth day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: nine nurses dancing, eighty FiO2, seven swabs of my skin, six litres of saline, some taaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the tenth day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: 10 lines a-leaking, nine nurses dancing, eighty FiO2, seven swabs of my skin, six litres of saline, some taaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the eleventh day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: eleven mls of norad, ten lines a-leaking, nine nurses dancing, eighty FiO2, seven swabs of my skin, six litres of saline, some taaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

On the twelfth day of sepsis my doctor gave to me: twelve defibrillations, eleven mls of norad, ten lines a-leaking, nine nurses dancing, eighty FiO2, seven swabs of my skin, six litres of saline, some taaaaaazocin, four VBGs, three sets of obs, two blood cultures and a catheter to measure my wee

As previously reported by Nursing Times, over the last 18 months or so, there has been growing momentum to improve sepsis care, with initiatives launched by nurses at ward, trust, and regional level.

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