Reflective accounts

Neutropenic sepsis

A CPD article improved Bing Raz’s knowledge of the identification and treatment of neutropenic sepsis.
Cancer patient

A CPD article improved Bing Razs knowledge of the identification and treatment of 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 prevention, identification and treatment of neutropenic sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening complication of chemotherapy. Neutropenic sepsis is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate assessment and treatment.

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

The article enhanced my understanding of how to identify patients at risk of developing neutropenic sepsis.

Neutropenia is a common side effect of anticancer therapy and results in a lowered neutrophil count, which means the bodys ability to fight infection is reduced. Therefore, patients who are neutropenic and have an infection are at increased risk of developing

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A CPD article improved Bing Raz’s knowledge of the identification and treatment of neutropenic sepsis


Picture: iStock

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

The article discussed the prevention, identification and treatment of neutropenic sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening complication of chemotherapy. Neutropenic sepsis is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate assessment and treatment.

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

The article enhanced my understanding of how to identify patients at risk of developing neutropenic sepsis.

Neutropenia is a common side effect of anticancer therapy and results in a lowered neutrophil count, which means the body’s ability to fight infection is reduced. Therefore, patients who are neutropenic and have an infection are at increased risk of developing neutropenic sepsis.

I learned that in patients who are neutropenic, the usual signs and symptoms of infection, including pyrexia, may not be present and a much greater level of suspicion of sepsis is required. Neutropenic sepsis should be considered in any patient with cancer at risk of neutropenia who becomes unwell, develops pyrexia or has any symptoms of infection.

The article emphasised the importance of hand-washing and other infection control measures to ensure that patients do not develop complications following neutropenic sepsis. It is important for nurses to educate patients who have had neutropenia about effective hand-washing techniques, particularly following use of toilets and before consuming meals.

The article also outlined the Sepsis Six care bundle, which focuses on six immediate interventions for patients who have developed neutropenic sepsis: oxygen to maintain saturation above 94%; blood cultures; intravenous antibiotics; blood tests; intravenous fluids; and accurate measurement of urine output.

How did you change or improve your practice?

Reading the article resulted in improvements to my practice when I was working on a ward for older adults. I was caring for a female patient with thrombocytopenia and a low neutrophil count who was being nursed in an isolation room to prevent her from contracting any infections. However, since the ward was not a specialist cancer ward, it was not equipped with a neutropenic care plan.

I was able to provide staff with a template from a cancer ward that I had previously worked on.

I will ensure that I provide patients with information about neutropenia and neutropenic sepsis before they undergo cancer treatment. This is important because, for many patients, the onset of neutropenia will occur outside of a specialist cancer setting, and they may require information that enables them to undertake self-monitoring and self-care.

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, Practise effectively, Preserve safety, Promote professionalism and trust

The Code theme of practising effectively emphasises that nurses must practise in line with the best available evidence. This article assists nurses to develop skills to identify and manage patients with neutropenia and neutropenic sepsis.

The article is also relevant to the theme of preserving safety, since patients at risk of developing neutropenic sepsis should be assessed for signs that their physical health is deteriorating. Neutropenic sepsis is a medical emergency and the patient’s condition should be closely monitored, with their case being escalated to a cancer specialist if necessary.

Bing Raz is an agency nurse based in London


This reflective account is based on NS841 Warnock C (2016) Neutropenic sepsis: prevention, identification and treatment. Nursing Standard. 30, 35, 51-58

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