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A mother’s eulogy inspires nurse’s campaign on sepsis care

A mother’s eulogy after her young son’s death from sepsis inspired nurse Joan Pons Laplana to lead a campaign that has speeded up treatment

A mother’s eulogy after her young son’s death from sepsis inspired nurse Joan Pons Laplana to lead a campaign that has speeded up treatment

Joan_Pons_Laplana_web_01_NOC
Joan Pons Laplana.
Picture: Neil O’Connor

I met Adam Bojelian in December 2014. Although cerebral palsy had deprived him of his sight and movement, he wasn’t letting that get in the way of enjoying life. At the age of 11, he was already a published poet and had a great sense of humour and quick wit.

When Adam passed away suddenly the following March I was in shock. He died of sepsis after a catalogue of errors meant there was a long delay in starting treatment.

Listening to Adam’s mum talk at his funeral made my heart sink. This moving feedback has provided a new direction to my career. That day I promised to do whatever I could to achieve better treatment for sepsis.

Recognised quicker

When I started a new position at the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, I quickly became involved with trying to improve sepsis care. In April 2016, the three-year Kissing Goodbye to Sepsis project began, with the aim of making it quicker for sepsis to be recognised so patients are treated within an hour.

Studies show that taking prompt action can reduce mortality by 50%. Our goal was to make it easy for staff to identify sepsis and provide clarity about what they should do next.

We are halfway through the project and the transformation has been incredible. After 18 months we have increased significantly the number of patients at the trust receiving antibiotics inside an hour, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Lifesaving work

This has grown from 63% in June 2016 to 90% in July 2017. Sepsis-related admissions to the intensive therapy unit have dropped by 7%.

By treating patients early we have reduced the length of stay by more than two days. The crude mortality at the trust is below the national average, and we have managed to reduce patient morbidity and rates of readmission.

  • Read a summary of the NICE guidelines on sepsis here

Now we are trying to spread the work across the rest of UK. Without Adam, or his mother’s feedback and encouragement, this life-saving work would not have happened.

 

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