Nurses need a greater awareness of a life threatening condition which is killing around 37,000 NHS patients each year, Nursing Times has been told ahead of a major report.
The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsmen is due to publish a report this week exposing widespread failure to adequately recognise and treat patients with sepsis. It will tell the story of 10 patients who died because of preventable failures in their treatment.
The ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, will issue a call to action for healthcare professionals to raise awareness of the signs of sepsis and how to treat it, as well as calling for systemic care improvements across the NHS.
Dame Julie told Nursing Times: “We know it is not easy to spot the early signs of sepsis, but if we learn from these complaints and work to improve diagnosis and provide rapid treatment, then lives can be saved.”
The report will be published on Friday to coincide with World Sepsis Day.
Fiona Lawrence, a former intensive care nurse and trustee of the Sepsis UK Trust, noted that education and training on the condition was currently “variable across the country”.
But she said: “Nurses need to familiarise themselves with the signs of sepsis because the earlier we recognise the symptoms the better care these patients will get.”
Sepsis is the body’s response to an infection and can lead to shock, organ failure and death if not recognised and treated quickly. Once it develops there can be as little as six hours to deliver key interventions that can increase survival chances by 20-30%.
Georgina McNamara, a sepsis nurse practitioners at Heart of England Foundation Trust, helped develop the “Sepsis 6”, a list of rapid interventions for suspected sepsis patients (see below).
She said: “Nurses are so under pressure at the moment and we are asking them to have yet another target with sepsis. But, compared with other conditions, it is being left behind and a lot more can be done.”
|The Sepsis 6 interventions:|
|1) Give high flow oxygen|
|2) Take blood cultures|
|3) Give IV antibiotics|
|4) Start IV fluid resuscitation|
|5) Check haemoglobin and lactate|
|6) Monitor accurate hourly urine output|
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