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Sepsis: nationwide awareness campaign launched

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    Kerstin Kubiak considers the Department of Health’s nationwide sepsis awareness campaign, following world sepsis day which took place on 13th September 2016.

    By Kerstin Kubiak

The UK Department of Health have announced their new nationwide awareness campaign, aimed at the public and healthcare officials, to help them in the recognition and diagnosis of sepsis. This campaign is considered imperative to reduce the number of deaths and life changing injuries caused by this rapidly developing disease, a disease where every minute can count when it comes to getting treatment. The campaign was released in the run up to world sepsis day, which took place last week on 13th September 2016.

Sepsis statistics

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, a national charity, approximately 150,000 adults and children in the UK are affected by sepsis annually, with around 44,000 of those dying each year. In a report from the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman of 2014, it noted that better sepsis care could save 13,500 lives every year and save the NHS £314m annually.

Just ask: could it be sepsis?

The new awareness campaign called “Just Ask: could it be sepsis?” will aim to prompt patients, family members and health professionals to query whether an illness could in fact be sepsis with the aim to getting fast access to treatment if needed. There will be a specific leaflet entitled ‘spotting sepsis in children’, to help parents spot the signs and symptoms of sepsis.

A helpful acronym ‘SEPSIS’ confirms the key signs of sepsis:

  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine (in a day)
  • Severe breathlessness
  • I feel like I may die
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “Better public awareness will mark a huge step forward for sepsis care in the UK, and the pledge must lead the way for further investment in educating health professionals and supporting those affected by the condition.”

Supporters of the campaign

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Sepsis is a devastating condition and patients rightly expect the NHS to be able to recognise it and provide the highest quality patient care. We are committed to a new campaign that will raise awareness of the condition and have worked closely with the UK Sepsis Trust to make sure it will help people to spot the signs and get the help they need.”

Melissa Mead, the mother of William Mead, released a video to raise awareness of sepsis which has been shared widely on social media. Her son William died in after her GP and out of hours services failed to diagnose her son’s illness before it was too late. She stated:  “This Government funding will get our campaign out of the starting blocks. Sepsis will never be eradicated but we need to make sure that everyone knows about it.”

Many hospital units are running awareness campaigns and training for its staff, for example the RUH in Bath launched a 60 day campaign across their acute care providers to train over 3,000 staff in sepsis awareness and management using training sessions, training tools, presentations and promotional material.

Our experience

My colleagues and I have sadly handled many cases relating to undiagnosed sepsis, including inquest cases on behalf of parents who have lost a young child to the disease. Knowing that the consequences may have been preventable if it were diagnosed earlier is heart breaking and hopefully by maintaining the present momentum to ensure better knowledge amongst the public and medical staff, the incidence of this happening can be reduced.

 

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