Patients with suspected sepsis to receive better care under the new NHS plan
New rules implemented in the Long Term Plan means that hospital staff must alert senior doctors if patients who may have sepsis do not respond to treatment within the first hour. This new strategy hopes to save thousands of lives from a potentially fatal sepsis diagnosis.
Currently, sepsis claims 37,000 lives a year in England. The NHS Long Term Plan means that every trust must take action to detect and treat sepsis as quickly as possible to prevent deaths. The new guidance requires staff to look for sepsis at the very early stages of admission for patients arriving at A&E. As well as this, staff should be on the lookout for sepsis with patients already on wards.
As well as escalating treatment after an hour, staff must also take note of any non-specific symptoms as well as any changes or concerns that relatives may raise. This new standard will come into force in April 2019, and every NHS hospital will be contractually obliged to ensure full compliance with the new measures.
The new sepsis measures come as part of a focus for faster sepsis treatment in emergency departments. Furthermore, the NHS hopes to pilot new clinical standards for swifter sepsis diagnosis.
The Medical Director for Clinical Effectiveness at NHS England, Celia Ingham Clark spoke at the announcement; “The NHS Long Term Plan is a blueprint for transforming NHS care, and after the success we’ve had ramping up earlier sepsis diagnosis in many parts of the country, all hospitals will now be required to deliver the best possible practices for identifying and treating sepsis.”
Dr Time Nutbeam from UK Sepsis Trust agreed; “We have been working with NHS England for the past three years to improve the recognition and management of sepsis in hospitals. This next step will ensure that every patient receives the attention they require within existing resource.”
What is sepsis?
Sepsis occurs when the body responds to a bacterial infection. The body responds by attacking its own tissues and organs which can lead to organ failure. Sepsis is hard to spot as there is no obvious symptom or test to take. Often treatment begins too late.
The NHS has increased its awareness of sepsis by improving screening in emergency departments. From 2015 to 2018 screening rates improved from 78% to 91%. Furthermore, 80% of patients are given sepsis medication at the right time. The new measures hope to improve early detection and reduce the number of fatal sepsis diagnoses.