Transformation Directorate

Screening to act fast on sepsis at Nottingham University Hospitals

Sepsis is the immune system’s overwhelming response to try to combat a severe infection. It is a medical emergency. If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in organ failure and death. But with early diagnosis, it can be treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately it can be really hard to spot and consequently five people die with sepsis every hour in the UK. This is more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined. Worse still, 40% of all sepsis survivors suffer permanent life-changing after effects. You can read about the impact this has on people on The Sepsis Trust’s website - for example Rachel and Graham’s stories.

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) have come up with an innovative solution that enables them to bring routine observation data on each patient into one screening system that helps to identify people who might have sepsis; so that the team can intervene early.

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Jeremy Lewis, Consultant in Acute Medicine and the NUH’s Chief Clinical Information Officer and Sally Wood, Recognise & Rescue and Sepsis Matron at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said:

“Every set of observations taken about a patient is recorded in our ‘Nervecentre electronic observations system’ which then screens the data in the background to assess the possibility of sepsis. If the system thinks a patient is at risk it triggers an alert to the staff allocated to the patient immediately on their hand held device. The alert also provides clear guidance, which is a helpful prompt for nurses and doctors - especially those who do not come across sepsis very often. For example, sometimes patients don’t have a temperature or any obvious symptoms of an infection and so clinicians might not consider this as the cause. So it is the right prompt, at the right time (at the bedside) that can save lives.

"NUH uses the data from screening to monitor and improve the timeliness of patients being assessed for sepsis and the impact this has on their care. Patients are now seen by a senior clinician and treated with antibiotics in an average of 47minutes at NUH. We are proud that prompt sepsis identification has been made easier for staff and, most importantly, safer for patients.”