Reflective accounts

Neutropenic sepsis

A CPD article improved Tracie Jones’ knowledge of how to identify and treat neutropenic sepsis
bacteria in blood

A CPD article improved Tracie Jones knowledge of how to identify and treat neutropenic sepsis

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article discussed the causes, signs and symptoms of neutropenic sepsis in adult patients after cancer treatment. It also explored the prevention and management of this condition.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article stated that neutropenic sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of chemotherapy. It has two components: neutropenia, a low count of circulating neutrophils; and sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response to infection.

The CPD article emphasised the importance of assessing and responding to clinical changes in the patients presentation in a timely manner. If signs of sepsis are present, the interventions in the Sepsis Six care bundle

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A CPD article improved Tracie Jones’ knowledge of how to identify and treat neutropenic sepsis

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article discussed the causes, signs and symptoms of neutropenic sepsis in adult patients after cancer treatment. It also explored the prevention and management of this condition.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article stated that neutropenic sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of chemotherapy. It has two components: neutropenia, a low count of circulating neutrophils; and sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response to infection.

The CPD article emphasised the importance of assessing and responding to clinical changes in the patient’s presentation in a timely manner. If signs of sepsis are present, the interventions in the ‘Sepsis Six’ care bundle should be delivered within 1 hour of its diagnosis. These interventions are: oxygen to maintain saturations above 94%; blood cultures; intravenous antibiotics; blood tests; intravenous fluids; and accurate measurement of urine output. The patient should be monitored regularly to ensure the early recognition of any deterioration.

How did you change or improve your practice?

As a staff nurse on a clinical haematology/oncology unit, I care for patients who are in the process of receiving chemotherapy or have recently completed a cycle of chemotherapy. Consequently, these patients may have neutropenia or are at increased risk of neutropenia.

Reading the article has helped me to identify areas where I need to improve and revise my knowledge about neutropenic sepsis. I have then read about these areas to enhance my practice. For example, I now obtain routine urine, sputum and stool specimens from patients, to be assessed for signs of infection. This means that infections can be identified more quickly, and treatment can be initiated earlier.

After reading the article I feel confident recognising the signs and symptoms of neutropenic sepsis and using my clinical judgement, and I feel able to raise any concerns I have about patients more quickly.

The CPD article has enabled me to provide information and advice about neutropenic sepsis to patients. I am able to advise them of any potential changes in their health they may experience and when to notify healthcare staff of these. I plan to provide advice to patients about precautions they can take to prevent infection, including oral and personal hygiene routines, as well as effective hand-washing techniques.

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety, promote professionalism and trust

The Code states that nurses must prioritise people by making sure their physical, social and psychological needs are assessed and responded to. By listening to patients and communicating effectively, any medical concerns can be addressed more quickly.

The Code emphasises that nurses must work within their limitations to preserve safety. I ensure that I ask questions and seek advice from more senior members of the multidisciplinary team so that I continue to work within the limits of my competence. 

Another theme of The Code is to practise effectively. The CPD article has equipped me with the knowledge to carry out my role as a staff nurse in this complex area. This ensures that patient safety is preserved and that I deliver the best possible care. 

Tracie Jones is a staff nurse at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton


This reflective account is based on NS841 Warnock C (2016) Neutropenic sepsis: prevention, identification and treatment. Nursing Standard. 30, 35, 51-58. The questions are the same as those on the NMC templates that UK nurses and midwives must use for revalidation.

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Complete the four questions about the CPD article you have just read, writing about 800 words in total. Details of how to submit your reflective account are available here

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