The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is urging Hospital staff to treat people with life-threatening sepsis symptoms within one hour.
Sepsis, often referred to as blood poisoning or septicaemia, occurs when the body overreacts to a simple infection that can quickly spread throughout the body. It is a clinical syndrome caused by the body’s immune and coagulation systems being switched on by an infection. It can affect multiple organs or the entire body. When not recognised and treated promptly it can lead to Septic Shock and death.
Sepsis has been highlighted as being a leading cause of avoidable death that kills more people than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined. It is suggested that more 260,000 people in the UK develop sepsis every year and the UK Sepsis Trust estimates that sepsis kills around 44,000 people per year.
NICE’s 2016 sepsis guidelines are designed to help health professionals improve care for those who are at risk of becoming seriously ill.
In a new draft quality standard, NICE state that people who show signs of sepsis must be checked carefully. If a person is classed as high risk then they should be seen by a senior staff member and given antibiotics and IV fluid treatment within an hour. If it will take more than an hour to get someone to hospital, GPs or ambulance staff can also administer antibiotics.
It stresses that staff in any setting, from GPs to paramedics, should be checking people for specific signs that will show if their symptoms are life-threatening. This includes taking their temperature or heart rate, or checking for rashes and skin discolouration.
With prompt treatment, people are more likely to survive and have a reduced risk of further problems such as organ failure or limb amputation.
Professor Gillian Leng, NICE Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Severe symptoms can develop in sepsis very quickly. If high-risk patients are not identified and treated promptly, people can be left with debilitating problems. In the worst cases, they may die.”
Dr Ron Daniels BEM, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, comments: “An emphasis on timely treatment and diagnosis is crucial if we are to improve outcomes for people with sepsis, and this quality standard could be a hugely impactful reinforcement of the recent guideline recommendation that sepsis is treated with same urgency as heart attacks.”
In 2015 a report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death found that 40% of people admitted to A&E with sepsis did not have a timely review by a senior clinician. It also reported avoidable delays in administering antibiotics in more than a quarter (29%) of cases.
Devonshires has extensive experience of managing clinical negligence claims, particularly in the field of delay in diagnosis. If you or a member of your family has suffered as a result of negligent treatment Devonshires can provide support and assistance. If you wish to talk with a member of our team, please get in touch with Jeanette Van-Cauter, a Chartered Legal Executive in our Clinical Negligence Team.
Jeanette Van-Cauter upon reading the consultation commented “It is clear that the failure of crucial checks can lead to tragic and catastrophic consequences for patients and their families. As with many of these cases, these errors are fueled by a lack of resources, training and experience, and this is leading to a growing number of claims for negligence.”
NICE is asking for views on the draft quality standard which is out for public consultation until Friday 7 April 2017.