Spotting the signs of sepsis

Posted on Wed, 14/06/2017 by Jane Flinn, Sepsis nurse

Jane Flinn

Jane Flinn, our new Sepsis nurse at QE Gateshead, talks about her role at the hospital and why it’s so important to spot the signs early.

I have been a registered nurse for 24 years with experience including primary and secondary care.

My career started at the Royal Victoria infirmary in Newcastle where I worked on a medical ward then progressed onto the medical admissions unit. I was regularly in charge of the unit which gave me a good grounding of working in secondary care.

Leadership and management have played a large part of my recent job history and I also have a teaching qualification with wide experience of mentoring staff.

Before joining the QE I’ve had a varied career in Public Health and worked in strategic commissioning - working across boundaries, in partnerships and in an operational capacity.

My new role as the clinical lead nurse for sepsis will focus on the implementation of the Sepsis Improvement Programme here in Gateshead.

So what is Sepsis? The clinical definition is: “A life threatening organ dysfunction caused by dysregulated host response to infection”. Every year Sepsis:

  • Kills more people than lung cancer
  • Kills more people than breast and bowel cancer combined
  • Kills more people than HIV and AIDS

More worryingly any age group and any gender can be affected with incidents of Sepsis currently rising by 1.5% nationally.

There’s a lot we can do to help combat this and over the coming weeks and months I’ll be a regular visitor on the wards where I will be promoting the early recognition and treatment of patients with sepsis.

The three main priorities will be to:

  • Develop Sepsis Pathway and associated documentation
  • Monitor the implementation of the pathway in line with local national standards and targets.
  • Evaluate the impact of the Sepsis Work Programme in reducing harm

I will be reviewing patients using a system called NEWS which provides a score that’s recorded on the hospitals VITALPAC system. Any patient with NEWS above 5 or a single parameter of three should be screened for sepsis. I will be looking for evidence of this in the patient’s notes as well as evidence for timely treatment.

It is important to the success of the sepsis pathway that the medical and nursing teams are fully engaged in the use of the sepsis screening tool and I’ll be working with Dr Kalluri, a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthesia who is the Medical Lead for Sepsis.

Advice for healthcare workers
You can see a very moving video which aims to help health care professionals spot and respond to the warning signs of sepsis in children by clicking here. This has been produced by Health Education England.

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