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We all need to 'think sepsis'

Clinical negligence solicitor Fiona Huddleston discusses the need for greater awareness of sepsis symptoms among healthcare professionals and the general public.

Patient in hospital
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    Fiona is an associate solicitor in the clinical negligence department.  You can follow her on twitter as @FEHuddleston
    In 2015 the NHS launched the first national action plan to tackle sepsis focusing on hospitals and GP surgeries. Two years later Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced new measures to help combat sepsis.

    It comes following Panorama’s programme “Why mum died: Britain’s sepsis crisis” that aired on 11 September 2017 presented by Alistair Jackson, whose elderly mother died suddenly in her local hospital. 

    One of the key issues highlighted was the failure of the medical professionals caring for Jackson’s mother to spot tell-tale signs of sepsis. Sadly this is all too common. 

    Whilst the UK Sepsis Trust has, over the past number of years, successfully raised awareness of sepsis, my colleagues and I continue to see cases where patients have displayed signs of sepsis in a hospital setting yet these have not been picked up and acted upon. This indicates that awareness amongst health professionals is lacking; a supposition which appears to be supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). 

    This week NICE have encouraged health care professionals to ‘think sepsis’ in line with the release of their final quality standard (on sepsis) on World Sepsis Day (13 September). The quality standard draws out recommendations from the 2016 NICE guidelines, setting out clearly the signs and symptoms of sepsis and urging staff to treat people with life-threatening sepsis within one hour (often referred to as the ‘golden hour’). 

    We hope that NHS trusts will take heed of these guidelines and ensure that there are coherent protocols in place and adequate (and continuous) training is provided to ensure that their staff always have spotting/treating sepsis at the forefront of their minds. 

    Whilst considerable inroads have been made into tackling sepsis there is still a long way to go. Before we are really able to take on the ‘silent killer’ there needs to be a unified approach, everyone (and in particular health care professionals) must ‘think sepsis’.

    To find out more about the signs and symptoms of sepsis and the fantastic work that the UK Sepsis Trust do you can visit their website here.

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