A report in 2015, by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD), reviewed the care of patients with sepsis. The report concluded with a number of recommendations for training, guidance and protocols to be implemented to ensure early identification and treatment of the deadly condition. The report states that, ‘The importance of early identification and control of the source of sepsis should be emphasised to all clinicians, and be reinforced in any future guidelines’.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who produce guidance for doctors, are now taking steps to introduce new guidelines for the identification and treatment of sepsis. Professor Gillian Leng, NICE’s Deputy Chief Executive, said ‘We know from recent case reviews that there are inconsistencies in how people's symptoms are assessed in different settings…more can be done to provide rapid treatment’.
NICE have now confirmed that patients with sepsis should be assessed quickly and, those with life-threatening sepsis, should be treated within one hour. Last year NICE stated that doctors should treat sepsis with the same urgency as a suspected heart attack. However, by now placing a definitive timescale on the action to be taken, it is hoped that this will highlight the importance to doctors of rapidly assessing patients and will give a specific standard to measure their actions against.
There have been a number of cases in the media in the last year, involving the deaths of children from sepsis and the delays in them receiving appropriate treatment, and I am sure that all parents will be grateful for the new one hour time limit. Children can often become very poorly very quickly and it is important that appropriate treatment is given as quickly as possible.
Mr Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, has confirmed that attempts are being made to raise awareness of sepsis. He stated that ‘We need to get far better at spotting sepsis across the NHS and this advice shows how vital it is for clinicians to treat life-threatening symptoms as soon as possible’.
If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of a delay in diagnosis please call our clinical negligence team on 0175 321 6399.