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Posted on 17th February 2017

First lifesaving sepsis team in a UK A&E department

Leicester Royal Infirmary is the first A&E department in the UK to get their own dedicated sepsis team.

The unique medical team, the first of its kind to be set up in the country, are based in the department to spot signs of the potentially deadly condition, sepsis.

It is important that anyone with sepsis, also known as bloody poisoning, is treated quickly. 

The life-threatening condition can lead to multiple organ failure and death if not spotted and dealt with quickly.

Dr John Parker, a consultant anaesthetist and lead for the project at Leicester's hospitals, told the Leicester Mercury: "The project started in early 2014 when we formed a sepsis awareness group bringing together different healthcare professionals.

"Our new dedicated team is based in our emergency department where two thirds of our patients present with the symptoms of sepsis.

"On an average day, there could be between five and 10 people coming in with potentially life threatening sepsis."

The project has been set up to improve safety in Leicester’s hospitals and received funding of £1.5million from the NHS Resolution.

The team is made up of all health care professionals, including those who work in critical care, emergency medicine and theatres.

Sepsis awareness training has become mandatory for all staff at Leister’s hospitals since the team was set up.

There have already been improvements in care since the project started, with an increase in the number of patients receiving intravenous antibiotics and fluids within the NHS England guidelines. 

Clair Ripley, who has taken on a new role as sepsis practitioner, told the Leicester Mercury: "After working in critical care for four years, I decided to join the sepsis team.

"I am excited to drive forward excellence in the care of septic and deteriorating patients in our emergency department and across the rest of our organisation."

Our recent survey found that four out of five people believed that sepsis was less deadly than breast cancer. 

We asked 500 people which disease they thought caused the most deaths each year in the UK. The choices included: breast cancer, leukaemia, meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis. 

A total of 25% placed breast cancer at the top of the list even though according the Sepsis Trust, sepsis results in more deaths than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

The survey continued to ask what symptoms are associated with sepsis and if respondents could identify the top three, only 26% could.

An estimated 37,000 people die each year in the UK due to sepsis whereas only 11,433 die of breast cancer. The condition, which normally presents as blood poisoning, is triggered by infection or injury.

Sepsis is the UK’s second biggest killer, having overtaken lung cancer in 2015. Coronary heart disease is the deadliest condition, causing almost 74,000 deaths per year. 

Richard Penn, Senior Solicitor, Hill & Abbott said: “The speed with which sepsis develops makes it extremely difficult to diagnose when it is still relatively easy to treat. Without prompt treatment, the infection can have extremely serious and potentially fatal consequences. Clinical negligence lawyers have seen many cases of missed or delayed diagnosis of sepsis in recent years which is why campaigns to raise awareness of the condition are vital to reducing deaths, illness and indeed the burden of claims against the NHS”.

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