Emergency department nurse wins award for work on sepsis

An emergency department nurse who developed a tool for identifying sepsis in children has won the Child Health Award at the RCNi Nurse Awards. 

Drew McDonald
Drew McDonald won award for 'inspirational commitment and belief'. Picture: Newsline Media

Drew McDonald, senior staff nurse at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital emergency department, was named the winner at a gala ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.

Best care possible

Drew said: ‘My goal as a nurse is to ensure that every child that attends our department is given the best care possible. We should treat the families as if they were our own, and I knew we were not good enough at dealing with sepsis.’

One in five patients with severe sepsis admitted to paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) die and Drew was concerned that this could happen in his workplace. 

He therefore developed a clear and easy-to-use sepsis recognition tool for nursing staff to refer to during triage. The tool, which takes 20 seconds to complete, integrates Sepsis 6 into emergency department practice. 

Drew said of his reasons for developing the tool: ‘By the time a child gets to the PICU 200 miles away, the damage is done. What we do beforehand is vital, but our care was not good enough and I knew it.

‘Good pre-PICU care – early recognition and early treatment with antibiotics, cardiovascular support including fluids and inotropes – can greatly improve outcomes. But there were inconsistencies at triage. 


Senior nurse for NHS Grampian Caroline Clark, who has overall responsibility for the children's hospital and the neonatal unit, nominated Drew for the award. She said his commitment and leadership has ensured it success and inspired the trust’s nursing community.

‘As with any change management programme this was not without its challenges, but Drew adapted the tool, trialled it and persevered to ensure staff were fully on board with it before it was fully implemented. Drew’s commitment and belief in the tool inspired the team to implement the necessary changes.’

The award was supported by Emergency Nurse's sister title, Nursing Children and Young People.

Further information

For the full story, including a photo gallery, click here.

For a round up of all the winners, finalists and coverage of the night’s events, go to our Nurse Awards home page.

The RCNi Nurse Awards

The RCNi Nurse Awards are the profession’s top accolade for nursing excellence. They recognise and reward nurses who have come up with new ways to improve health outcomes, enhance patient experiences and transform nursing practice. The awards provide a fantastic opportunity to share nursing initiatives, raise the profile of nursing, gain national recognition and influence nursing policy and practice.

Look out for details of how to enter the 2018 awards!