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Sepsis: many lives could be saved if paramedics had clear IV antibiotics guidance

A new study found there was a drive for early sepsis diagnosis and pre-alerting the receiving hospital
Picture shows an older man in an ambulance being treated by paramedics

Lives could be saved by agreeing guidelines for paramedics to give intravenous antibiotics when sepsis is suspected, research suggests

Many lives could potentially be saved if paramedics had clear guidelines for giving intravenous antibiotics to patients with suspected sepsis, a study, Treating sepsis in the emergency prehospital setting with IV antibiotics, suggests.

University of Portsmouth paramedic lecturer Patryk Jadzinski interviewed medical directors at five of the UKs 14 NHS ambulance services about how intravenous antibiotics should be used out of hospital to treat suspected sepsis.

Study covers current pre-hospital treatment for sepsis by ambulance services

Current prehospital treatment for sepsis in UK ambulance services ranges from the conservative administration of sodium chloride and oxygen to collecting blood

Lives could be saved by agreeing guidelines for paramedics to give intravenous antibiotics when sepsis is suspected, research suggests

Picture shows an older man in an ambulance being treated by paramedics
Picture: iStock

Many lives could potentially be saved if paramedics had clear guidelines for giving intravenous antibiotics to patients with suspected sepsis, a study, Treating sepsis in the emergency prehospital setting with IV antibiotics, suggests.

University of Portsmouth paramedic lecturer Patryk Jadzinski interviewed medical directors at five of the UK’s 14 NHS ambulance services about how intravenous antibiotics should be used out of hospital to treat suspected sepsis.

Study covers current pre-hospital treatment for sepsis by ambulance services

Current prehospital treatment for sepsis in UK ambulance services ranges from the conservative administration of sodium chloride and oxygen to collecting blood cultures and administering IV antibiotics, according to the study, co-authored with University of Portsmouth head of school Chris Markham.

The speed with which suspected sepsis cases are treated is critical for better patient outcomes, with the study citing research showing that deaths from the condition are halved if treatment starts within an hour of severe sepsis being diagnosed.

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, up to 48,000 people die of sepsis in the UK every year

The research also found there was a drive for early sepsis diagnosis and pre-alerting the receiving hospital. However, without evidence decision makers were reluctant to consider a standard UK-wide approach using intravenous antibiotics.

Responses ranged from caution to seeing significant benefits

Responses from the medical directors ranged from being cautious about paramedics taking blood and administering intravenous antibiotics to a belief that to do so carried little risk and potential significant benefits, and could be used.

Most agreed it would be difficult to reach agreement on which antibiotic to use across all UK ambulance services.

UK Sepsis Trust chief executive Ron Daniels said: ‘Evidence and experience shows that quick administration of antibiotics increases survival rates, and should a new protocol be introduced enabling paramedics to give antibiotics we would expect to see a decrease in sepsis deaths. 

‘However, this needs to be undertaken with appropriate consideration to antimicrobial resistance, and any agents selected for trial should balance spectrum of cover against tendency to initiate resistance in pathogens.’

The study authors proposed a large UK trial to investigate the efficacy of IV antibiotics in prehospital sepsis.

Find out more  

Treating sepsis in the emergency prehospital setting with IV antibiotics


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