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Welcome to the January edition of our WWL Blog

Subash Nandalan

At the end of December Public Health England launched a Sepsis campaign to raise awareness of what sepsis is. This is a much needed campaign as sepsis is a very common illness, severely effecting over 100,000 people in the UK every year. Of those 100,000 cases of sepsis, it is estimated that about 44,000 result in deaths annually.

One reason why sepsis is so dangerous is that while many may have heard of it, they aren’t really sure about what sepsis actually is. Of the 40% of people who had heard what sepsis was, only 40% of those people knew that it was considered a medical emergency. So, let’s try to learn a little bit more about what it is and how you can spot it.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a reaction by the body to severe infection and can involve many different parts of the body. The germs involved in sepsis can be bacteria, viruses or fungi. If the bacteria multiply and release poisons (toxins) into the blood it can cause serious illness.

Why is sepsis awareness so important?

As previously mentioned we see over 100,000 cases of sepsis in the UK every year. Sepsis is also the number one direct cause of death during pregnancy in the UK and is the cause of over 6 million infant and children deaths each year worldwide.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of sepsis can include increased or rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, nausea or vomiting, a change in behaviour such as confusion or delirium (patients may appear drunk or slur their words), hypothermia, muscle pain, less urine production than usual, diarrhoea, changes to your skin colour, sore throat and flu like symptoms. Often people who have experienced or known someone with sepsis report that it was like the flu but ‘different’.

How quickly does it progress?

Ideally sepsis should be diagnosed and treated within the first hour of symptoms showing, this allows for an 80% survival rate. After six hours, that rate can drop to 30%.

How do you treat sepsis?

The earlier sepsis is detected, the easier it is to treat. If it is caught early on, sepsis can be treated at home with antibiotics. For more severe cases, admission to the hospital may be necessary as sepsis can affect our vital organs. Antibiotics and fluids will be administered intravenously and oxygen will be given. Patients in the hospital will be monitored closely and tested regularly.

What is recovery like after sepsis?

Depending on your overall health and age, many people make a full and speedy recovery from sepsis. However, the amount of time needed to recover depends on many factors, specifically the severity of the infection. Some people, however quite rare, will experience long-term or psychological problems during their recovery such as lethargy, muscle weakness, swollen limbs, joint pain, difficulty breathing.

What is WWL doing about it?

We have a Sepsis Improvement Team in place to work on making improvements towards the early identification of sepsis, sepsis screening, treatment management and timely antibiotics administration of patients with sepsis in the emergency department. The work the team has done has not only raised awareness amongst A&E staff but we have also seen an improvement of 90% of patients being screened for sepsis since 2015. We have also found that since our team started, 90% of patients were provided with intravenous antibiotics within one hour of arrival to the hospital.

The Sepsis Team will continue to work to improve on the impact of sepsis at WWL through regular assessment and monitoring as well as ensuring all frontline staff are well trained and aware of the signs and symptoms. Their work has played such an important role in improving our awareness of this illness that they were recently awarded the Working Together award at our annual staff Recognising Excellence event. Well done to the team and all of the staff working towards being sepsis aware.


 


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Petro Bekker 03 January 2017

Great article Subash!


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Dr. Prashant Bagde 04 January 2017

Dear Dr. Nandalan I m proud of you and your achievements Love Prashant Bagde India


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Thiru 04 January 2017

Thanks for articulating candidly on sepsis. Though I have heard about it didn't have the clarity on the disease until I read your blog.


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Priya Achar 04 January 2017

90% recognition of sepsis and 90% receiving antibiotics within first hour of arrival to the hospital- commendable efforts. Well done team!

 

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