Four-year old Esme is rushed to QMC from Hull 80 miles away as her closest intensive care units in Leeds and Sheffield are both completely full. She is suffering from Sepsis, a life threatening reaction to infection where the body attacks its own organs. Patrick Davies, Paedicatric Consultant and the team on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit must first stabilise her so that her life is out of danger. But the infection forces the blood in her body to her vital organs and the team must now battle to save Esme’s fingers and toes.
Patrick explains what Esme is going through:
There is a level of sepsis called septic shock and that is when the body starts to divert blood to the most important organs, I mean brain hearts, lungs, kidney that kind of thing. The organs that a body cares about least are fingers and toes and that is why with some patients with extreme septic shock, they will shut down their blood supply to the hands and their feet. So it’s almost a bit of self sacrifice when the body is in that much trouble.
In the UK, around 150,000 people each year suffer from serious sepsis. Worldwide it is thought that 3 in 1000 people get sepsis each year, which means that 18 million people are affected.
Sepsis can move from a mild illness to a serious one very quickly, which is very frightening for patients and their relatives. The symptoms are very similar to flu; to begin with, you may have felt like you were developing a flu- like illness. With a high temperature and aches, pains and loss of appetite.
Treating Sepsis at NUH
NUH is one of the leading hospitals in the country for the development of care for patients with Sepsis.
Since 2010 the time taken for a patient with Sepsis to be seen by a critical care specialist has been halved – and now over 90% of patients receive antibiotics within an hour of developing Sepsis symptoms. A major contributor to this improvement has been the introduction of electronic observations on NUH wards, to monitor patients closely and share data more effectively. Regular observations ensure that any symptoms can be picked up as early as possible. The developments also include internal training, education and awareness campaigns for staff.
Dr Marc Chikhani, the Sepsis Lead at NUH, said: “We have been really pleased by the progress made over the last decade and that is due to the hard work of so many people, we have seen substantial sustained improvements in both processes and patient outcomes.
But we know there is still work to do and we are looking at the next step for improvement. This includes working with colleagues to encourage them to identify patients at risk of harm from sepsis, and communicate the need for urgent treatment, especially how vital it is to administer antibiotics as soon as possible to give the best chance of treatment success.
Dr Mark Simmonds, Consultant in Acute and Critical Care who has been at the forefront of the early development of the approach to treating patients with Sepsis at NUH said:
We are very proud of the progress we have made. In 2005 NUH set out on a journey of measurement, analysis and engagement. The first five years provided a foundation from which rapid change could evolve.
For more information about Sepsis and the symptoms to look out for please visit: https://sepsistrust.org/support/resources/