New toolkit will help doctors diagnose and treat sepsis

A new toolkit from the Royal College of Physicians and the UK Sepsis Trust will help doctors recognise and treat sepsis on acute care wards, saving an extra 12,500 lives a year.

Dr Ron Daniels, co-author of the toolkit and a world expert in sepsis, explained why it is crucial that the early identification and care of patients with sepsis must improve.

A consultant in critical care at Heart of England NHS Trust, Dr Daniels is also CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust and the Global Sepsis Alliance. He made a decision to spend his working life fixing sepsis after watching a fit, strong, young man die unnecessarily from the condition in 2005.

Patients admitted to hospital with severe sepsis are five times more likely to die from this than those admitted with a heart attack or stroke and it causes 37,000 deaths in the UK each year.

Dr Daniels says acute medical units are key to the rapid identification and treatment of sepsis. “There are some excellent examples of hospitals out there that really have got sepsis sorted but what we want to have is acute medical units across the nation that have a culture of sepsis awareness. This means that when a patient is admitted or their condition deteriorates after admission and they have abnormal physiology, then it becomes a Pavlovian link to screen for sepsis because sepsis is the most common cause for deterioration.

“I think people are aware of it. It’s about making that mental connection – ‘I’ve got a patient that doesn’t look very well, it might that be sepsis’ and then undertaking a sepsis screen. It’s about having the mantra that sepsis is a medical emergency and everything else is dropped to treat the patient right now, not – ‘I’m going to screen that patient in half an hour’.

“We need to change and how acute medical units can translate the toolkit into medical practice.”