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Pioneering sepsis training rolled out across hospital

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A pioneering and potentially life-saving project to give nurses and other staff the skills to spot the first signs of sepsis has now been rolled out across all wards at a Midlands hospital.

The programme is being rolled out across Queen’s Hospital, which is the main acute site run by Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“This project has and will continue to save lives”

Cara Golding

The programme was launched in July last year. In the three previous months, sepsis screening for inpatients was at just 1% but rose sharply to 84% between October and December, said the trust.

Likewise, compliance for treating those with suspected sepsis within the 60-minute target reached 84% in the last three months of 2016 – up from 60% between April and June, the trust said.

The training, which is in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance, aims to equip clinical staff to recognise sepsis, initiate rapid treatment and get them to “think sepsis”.

A spokeswoman told Nursing Times the training included describing “at risk” groups so staff had a general knowledge and understanding of the illness, as well as telling them about the history of the charity the UK Sepsis Trust.

They are taught that if a patient looks particularly sick in the health professional’s opinion and there is a suspected infection they should be screened.

Having identified someone who may have sepsis, the nurse should then complete a special form. If the answers to the questions on it raise “red flags”, the situation is escalated to a Sepsis Six level, meaning they should be treated using the care bundle of the same name.

It consists of three diagnostic and three therapeutic steps – all to be delivered within one hour of the initial diagnosis of sepsis.

  1. Titrate oxygen to a saturation target of 94%
  2. Take blood cultures
  3. Administer empiric intravenous antibiotics
  4. Measure serum lactate and send full blood count
  5. Start intravenous fluid resuscitation
  6. Commence accurate urine output measurement.

The trust’s staff are told that, for every hour’s delay in receiving antibiotics, the patient’s mortality increases by 8% so it is vital that treatment is given as soon as possible.

The training has already been delivered in clinics and departments including endoscopy, the medical day-case unit, discharge lounge, breast care centre and out-patients’ unit.

Carla Golding, the trust’s quality support nurse who has been delivering the training with colleagues, said: “It is vital that our staff can identify the early signs of the illness and act quickly.

Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Pioneering sepsis training rolled out across hospital

Quality support nurses Kate Douglas and Carla Golding with UK Sepsis Trust chief executive Dr Ron Daniels, acutely Ill recognition lead Karen Wiley and consultant anaesthetist Dr Paul Smith

“If you compare figures prior to the training to those in the last three months of 2016 the number of patients who were sepsis screened increased by a phenomenal rate,” she said. “It is no exaggeration to say that this project has and will continue to save lives.”

The fracture clinic, respiratory nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy teams are now also set to benefit from the programme, as well as the trust’s Samuel Johnson and Sir Robert Peel community hospitals.

In addition, sepsis “champions” have been identified in each area to support colleagues and ensure that the training becomes embedded in every-day practice at the trust.

The initiative has been praised by the UK Sepsis Trust. It’s chief executive Dr Ron Daniels described it as “ahead of the game”.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Well done Midlands Hospital.

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  • Need to train nurses and hca to read observation sheets correctly and look at emerging patterns and allow bloods etc to be done without waiting ages to get a dr on ward especially at weekends

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