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Increasing number of patients surviving from sepsis after successful drive in Worcestershire’s hospitals

The number of hospital patients in Worcestershire surviving from sepsis has increased by a third this year, after a successful drive to identify the deadly condition as early as possible.

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is the life-threatening reaction to an infection, in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues.

But Worcestershire’s three acute hospitals have ensured more patients are screened for sepsis, with those found to have the condition being treated much more quickly.

After almost 3,000 clinical staff across the three hospitals were specifically trained in identifying the condition as early as possible, the death rates from the condition have been significantly reduced to better than the national average.

There are around 260,000 cases of sepsis a year in England, with around 44,000 people dying every year as a result of the condition. Anyone can develop sepsis after an injury or minor infection, although some people are more vulnerable.

A new dedicated sepsis nursing role has been created to oversee clinical advice and staff training about the condition, and educational materials and videos have been produced to raise greater awareness amongst staff.

Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose because early symptoms can be confused with other conditions, highlighting the need for greater awareness of its causes, signs and symptoms. Early symptoms of sepsis in older children and adults can include a high temperature (fever) or low body temperature, chills and shivering, confusion, cold or blotchy hands and feet, and not passing as much urine as normal.

As well as extensive training for staff, the project has involved introducing a new care pathway for patients which improves the prevention, diagnosis and management of sepsis. This includes key definitions, treatment guidelines and staff roles and responsibilities when caring for different patient groups.

Specialist IT improvements have also helped bring in line systems across Worcestershire’s hospitals so that staff can more easily and quickly report patients who have been identified as having sepsis.

Dr Mike McAlindon, Clinical Lead for the Sepsis Quality Improvement Project at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Sepsis is an important cause of death in people of all ages and is a major cause of avoidable mortality. Thanks to the hard work of staff across our Trust we’ve managed to dramatically reduce the mortality from sepsis.

“This is good news for patients as now they can be assured that if they come to hospital with sepsis, they will receive a good level of care, giving them a better chance at survival.”