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Sarah Odams - Sepsis aware

Sepsis, also referred to as blood poisoning or septicaemia, is a potentially life-threatening condition, triggered by an infection or injury and Leicester’s Hospitals, as part of its Quality Commitment plan, is committed to effectively identifying and tackling it through a trust-wide education programme.

All clinical staff, from healthcare assistants, nurses, junior doctors to consultants are in the process of receiving face-to-face training from Leicester’s Hospitals’ Sepsis Lead Consultant John Parker and Sepsis Specialist Nurse Sarah Odams. 

John Parker said “in line with new national guidelines we have recently launched a new sepsis pathway, which staff use if they suspect sepsis. The NHS deals with over 150,000 people with the symptoms of sepsis and it can be a difficult condition to recognise as it often shows itself as ‘flu like symptoms’ but early recognition and treatment can save lives. Sepsis can occur while you are in hospital recovering from a procedure, but this is not always the case. It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the key symptoms.  The earlier you seek treatment, the greater your chances of survival.” “It is important to remember that sepsis is a medical emergency. Every minute and hour counts, especially since the infection can spread quickly. There’s no one symptom of sepsis, but rather a combination of symptoms.”

Patient Story

Former Sepsis patient Amandeep Sadhra said  “I was just going about my normal day, when I noticed a rash on my hand. I didn’t really take any notice of it as I suffer from eczema, but during the course of the day it got worse and was throbbing a lot. By the time I got home after work, I felt very tired and had no appetite. I decided to take some paracetamol and go straight to bed.

“The next day I felt no better and didn’t want to get up. My hand had ballooned up like a boxing glove and I was starting to shiver, I felt like I was getting a fever. It was at this time my husband said we should go to the Emergency Department.

“I received scans, a blood test and was advised that as there was a lot of fluid on my hand and I would have to have an operation, but during the course of the night the doctor advised me that my blood pressure was dropping and the antibiotics were not working and I was going to be transferred to intensive care. The next day I was taken for my operation and woke up five or so days later after my procedure. I was then advised that I had been very ill after my operation, suffering from multiple organ failure and slight pneumonia, which is why I continued to be sedated. I was then informed that I was recovering from severe sepsis.

“It was a life-changing event, I had always been fit and healthy but after being discharged from hospital it has taken me several months to recuperate, go back to work, get back to normal. You never think something like this could happen to you, particularly from something so minimal like a skin rash to something life threatening.”

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria, getting into your body. The infection may have started anywhere in a sufferer’s body, and may be only in one part of the body or it may be widespread. Sepsis can occur following chest or water infections, problems in the abdomen like burst ulcers, or simple skin injuries like cuts and bites. 

Do I have Sepsis?

Sepsis is a serious condition that can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection. Seek urgent medical help if you develop any of the following:

• Slurred Speech

• Extreme Shivering or Muscle Pain

• Passing no urine (in a day)

• Severe Breathlessness

• I feel like I may die

• Skin mottled or discoloured

When to seek medical advice 

See your GP immediately or call NHS 111 if you've recently had an infection or injury and you have possible early signs of sepsis. If sepsis is suspected, you'll usually be referred to hospital for further diagnosis and treatment.

For further information visit the Sepsis Trust: www.sepsistrust.org