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Sepsis highlighted at healthcare conference

31 May 2017

​A leading expert on sepsis (also known as blood poisoning or septicaemia) is due to lead discussions on the condition at a conference being held for healthcare professionals in June.

Dr Ron Daniels is CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust and the Global Sepsis Alliance, a consultant in critical care and a clinical adviser to the World Health Organisation. He will be running dedicated workshops which will be attended by around 350 professionals.

As well as Health and Social Services staff, the workshops will be attended by Family Nursing and Home Care and Jersey Hospice staff and people who work in care homes in Jersey. The conference has been organised by Verity Sangan, clinical skills lead for HSSD.

Chief Nurse Rose Naylor said "We are delighted to welcome Dr Daniels to Jersey. To have such an expert with all their knowledge on hand for everyone to be able to learn directly from is a rare opportunity. It is testament to his credentials and reputation that many of the workshop sessions are fully booked or very busy. We have had a great response from across the health and social care sector in Jersey to this conference. We recognise that in Jersey, sepsis is something we need to be constantly vigilant about."

The symptoms for sepsis differ in adults and children, and for children under 5. HSSD are currently working on producing a leaflet which will be distributed in Jersey primary schools, preschools and nurseries.

Adult symptoms include:

  • slurred speech
  • extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • passing no urine in a day
  • severe breathlessness
  • mottled or discoloured skin

Symptoms in children include:

  • breathing very fast
  • having a “fit” or convulsion
  • looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • a rash which does not fade when touched
  • lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch

Symptoms in children under 5 include:

  • not feeling well
  • vomiting repeatedly
  • hasn’t urinated or had a wet nappy for 12 hours

In May, the World Health Assembly and World Health Organisation made sepsis a global health priority, signing a resolution to improve, prevent, diagnose and manage sepsis. This significant step in the fight against the condition, urges the 194 United Nation member states to introduce measures to reduce the human and health economic burden caused.

In 2016, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK launched new guidelines for sepsis and as a result, local guidelines and the hospital management plan for treatment have been reviewed, updated and shared with HSSD staff.

It is important that clinicians are able to recognise sepsis and treat it swiftly because it can lead to shock, multi-organ failure and can be fatal. It is caused by an infection stemming from bacteria, virus or fungi. Meningitis can be a form of sepsis.

In the UK, it is estimated that 150,000 people have sepsis each year, and 44,000 deaths are caused by it.

Chair of the Primary Care Body in Jersey, Dr Nigel Minihane welcomed Dr Daniels’ visit to Jersey. He said “Sepsis can be life threatening but treatable if caught at an early stage. There is always a GP on call, 24/7 365 days a year, with a free advice line for anyone, patient or family, with concerns. Primary Care and General Practice is about early recognition of potentially devastating disease. There is no better example than sepsis (overwhelming infection), which characteristically develops rapidly and requires early treatment with antibiotics.

“It is all the more difficult to diagnose and manage in the community where we largely rely on clinical intuition to distinguish it from lesser forms of infection. We also have a duty to use antibiotics wisely in a world where antibiotic resistance is increasing at an alarming rate. That said, years of training and experience count towards accuracy and safety in the vast majority of cases.”

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