Patients with sepsis are being identified and treated earlier than ever before in Lincolnshire hospitals, thanks to two new innovations introduced this year.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has recently introduced the role of sepsis nurse to its hospitals, as well as placing sepsis boxes in departments where patients are most often identified with having the condition, so that they can be treated quickly.
Sepsis– also referred to as septicaemia or blood poisoning– is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. This can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death, especially if not recognised early and treated promptly.
A national campaign recently highlighted how better identification, diagnosis and treatment of sepsis in hospitals could save thousands of lives each year.
Patients with possible sepsis symptoms are required to be screened and a range of actions should be taken to diagnose and treat it within one hour of the patient arriving – this is called the sepsis 6 care bundle. Any patients diagnosed with sepsis should also be given antibiotics to treat it within one hour.
The introduction of the new sepsis nurse role and the sepsis boxes have resulted in improvements against all of these in the last year (since June 2016):
- Performance on sepsis screening within one hour has increased by 27% to 94.5% in May 2017.
- Performance on all actions in the sepsis 6 care bundle being completed within an hour has increased by 74% to 91% in May 2017.
- Performance on treating patients with suspected sepsis with antibiotics within one hour has increased by 56% to 94% in May 2017.
Sepsis nurse at Lincoln and Grantham hospitals, Kat Mayer, said the huge improvement in performance is mostly down to education, and thanks to the national awareness campaign more staff and patients know the signs to look for.
“My role is about working with areas in our hospitals that most often see patients with sepsis or suspected sepsis, helping them to ensure they identify the symptoms of sepsis and act correctly to administer antibiotics in a timely way. This is done through education, working alongside them and supporting them.
“We work closely with the emergency assessment units and A&E departments, as that is where patients need to be identified to ensure they get the treatment they need. This is such an important thing, taking the right action literally saves lives.”
As part of the work, sepsis boxes have been introduced to areas where patients are most commonly identified as having sepsis. These bright yellow boxes contain everything nursing staff need to urgently diagnose and treat sepsis, including blood culture packs, equipment for cannulation, fluids and antibiotics.
“We are really pleased with the progress we have made in such a short space of time, and that’s thanks to all of our staff who have made massive efforts to ensure we get it right with sepsis. There is still a way to go to ensure we perform well across all of our hospitals, but things are definitely moving in the right direction,” said Kat.
Sepsis nurse at Pilgrim hospital, Kellymarie Foster, said: “Awareness of sepsis is on the up and the staff are really starting to engage with the ongoing drive to improve patient safety through, in particular, the early identification and treatment of sepsis.”
Patient Nouelle Pacle (29) from Boston was identified as having sepsis during pregnancy in December 2015, and said the quick actions of staff at Pilgrim Hospital in identifying and treating the condition helped to keep her and her baby safe.
“I had flu symptoms for a few days prior and was using home remedies plus paracetamol to treat it. I called the hospital when my temperature spiked, and went into the labour ward to be monitored. They did my observations, and the results led them to do a sepsis screening. As soon as the result was positive they began treating me with antibiotics straight away.
“I know how fatal sepsis can be if left untreated and was more concerned for my baby at that time, so I was scared for the baby, and thankful for being in the right place at the right time.
“I am so thankful to their prompt response and treatment, because they did not just look after me, but also my baby. He was born a few weeks later healthy and safely.”
Notes to editors
Videos about our new sepsis nurses and sepsis boxes can be found on our YouTube channel here: Sepsis YouTube videos