Sepsis action plan supports prompt diagnosis and treatment

NHS England publishes action plan with five focus areas aimed at improving healthcare professionals' care of people with sepsis

An action plan to help healthcare professionals to recognise and treat sepsis promptly has been published by NHS England.

The plan has emerged following collaboration between a number of organisations, including NHS England, the royal colleges and the UK Sepsis Trust.

It sets out five areas of focus for bringing improvements to caring for patients with sepsis. These are preventing avoidable cases of sepsis; increasing awareness of the condition among the public and healthcare professionals; improving identification and treatment of sepsis in all care settings; improving consistency of standards and reporting; and ensuring antibiotic prescribing.

Sepsis is triggered by an infection, where the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions that can lead to organ failure and, in some cases, death. 

The number of people developing sepsis is increasing, with around 123,000 cases each year in England. An estimated 37,000 deaths are associated with the condition, which is more than the number who die from lung cancer. 

While sepsis can be extremely difficult to recognise and diagnose, it can be prevented, and it is treatable in many cases. It is often known as a 'silent killer'.

However, a recent report by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death highlighted that only one third of patients with sepsis received good quality care. The UK Sepsis Trust estimates that 10,000 deaths could be avoided each year through prevention or early accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

NHS England’s national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said: ‘In many cases sepsis is avoidable and, if not, it is often treatable, so we need to ensure that healthcare professionals are supported and equipped to identify and treat sepsis early.

‘We have a good idea of what needs to be done and this plan aims to make things happen.’

To read NHS England’s Improving outcomes for patients with sepsis – a cross-system action plan on sepsis click here

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