New measures to help health professionals tackle sepsis

Health professionals, including nurses, are being urged to help tackle sepsis.

Health professionals, including nurses, are being urged to help tackle sepsis

NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh issued the call ahead of the launch of a public awareness campaign on the potentially life-threatening condition.

New measures introduced by NHS England help healthcare staff to recognise the
early signs of sepsis. Picture: iStock

Since April 2015, the number of people screened for sepsis has increased significantly and it is being diagnosed and treated quicker than ever, NHS England stated. However, one in four acutely ill patients are still not tested early enough.

New measures announced this week to add to NHS England’s Sepsis Action Plan, which was launched last year, include education materials for health professionals, incentives for hospitals to reduce antibiotic resistance and a new ratings system to show how well different areas are identifying and treating the condition.

Local action

Sir Bruce also called on health commissioners and providers to take local action to improve sepsis diagnosis and treatment, including:

  • Safety netting for GPs and parents – some GP software companies have already introduced pop-up reminders and printed information for GPs to give to parents of sick children explaining what to look out for and when to bring the child back to be urgently seen again. All commissioned software, in all practices, should include such a package, to ensure the information is available consistently.
  • Early warning score system – to improve the identification and treatment of sepsis across the entire patient pathway, all areas should use a consistent early warning score to assess how ill patients are across the whole local health system, from hospitals to GP practices.
  • Information on sepsis included in the Red Book – this is the personal child health record given to every new parent to keep track of their child’s health and progress. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has updated the national template to include information on how to tell if your child is seriously ill.

Early detection

Sir Bruce told an event in London this week: ‘Doctors, nurses and other health professionals are spotting and treating more cases of sepsis than ever before, but there is still more we can do to reduce the number of families experiencing the heartache of losing a loved one from sepsis.’

RCN professional lead for acute, emergency and critical care Anna Crossley said: ‘If sepsis is not recognised quickly, it can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death, which is why early detection is critical to start treatment within the hour.

‘Nurses and healthcare support workers, who see their patients on a regular basis, and are often the first healthcare worker to see them, are well placed to recognise the signs of sepsis early and raise the alarm.’

Further information

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