Sepsis, know as ‘the silent killer’, currently claims 44,000 lives annually in the UK. This is more than the top three cancer deaths combined. Sepsis places a significant economic burden on the NHS, with around 70% of patients needing treatment in critical care units.
Northumbria rolled out a major sepsis quality improvement programme across their hospitals with the aims of:
2.Reducing the number of sepsis related fatalities; and
3.Raising awareness amongst staff of the signs and symptoms of sepsis infection so they could spot and treat sepsis sooner.
The programme focused on the Sepsis 6 – a set of 6 clinical interventions that based on best practice should be administered within the critical first hour. Compliance with the proven Sepsis 6 programme was only 1% in 2014.
Central to this programme was increased staff engagement, and a commitment to ensuring that agreed standards in sepsis treatment and rapid screening was at the heart of the programme. To achieve this:
•Staff were trained about the importance of early diagnosis and how to spot sepsis indicators;
•A bespoke infection screening tool was used to help diagnose sepsis and prompt the use of Sepsis 6.
•A key element of this tool was that it empowered nurses to initiate treatment rather than simply report deterioration and await further instructions from doctors . This saved valuable time and treatment is started sooner;
•Sepsis trolleys were introduced on high risk wards to ensure that necessary care bundle components were readily available when sepsis was identified; and
•‘Sepsis Champions’ took daily measurements and provided feedback to staff about compliance with the use of the Sepsis 6 bundle.
Northumbria rolled out a focused and comprehensive communications strategy and plan that underpinned the project, and also captured the attention and enthusiasm of staff.
As part of the communications strategy, Northumbria used social media channels to bring the project to a wider audience, and provide an opportunity for patients and their families to engage and be a part of a significant quality improvement programme.
•By 2016, compliance with the Sepsis 6 programme had increased from 1% in 2014 to 62%.
•Northumbria’s sepsis quality improvement programme reduced mortality by 21%.
•An analysis of over 7,000 screened patients revealed that:
•An estimated 158 lives were saved;
•1,339 critical care bed days were avoided; and
•Financial savings amounted to £1.65m.
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