Guest Author - Rann Patterson
If you are a follower of my column, you may remember that I featured an article about Sepsis, or blood poisoning, only about six weeks ago. Recently, Iíve met a doctor on Twitter that is trying to get the word out and increase awareness in the United Kingdom. I thought awareness just needed to spread more in America, but I found out that is not the case.
There is not one good reason why any person should ever die from Sepsis. It is easily treatable with simple fluids and IV antibiotics, but ideally it must be administered within 1 hour of the onset of symptoms for the best outcome. This means that the general public and healthcare workers must know what Sepsis is, and what to look for. This is why I wanted to team up with Dr. Daniels so we could help you to understand more about it.
Dr. Ron Daniels is a physician who specializes in Critical Care and Anesthesia. He currently is in practice at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust located in Birmingham, United Kingdom (UK). He attended the University of Birmingham Medical School, and received his professional qualifications via the Royal College of Anesthetists, and is a member of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, London.
You are extremely passionate about this cause. Why?
As a newly-appointed Consultant in 2002, one of the first cases I dealt with on Intensive Care was that of Jeremy Abbotts. Jeremy was, at 37, around my age. Like me, he had a wife and two young children. Jeremy was a keen water-skier and competitive motocross rider. He had been unwell for just 2 days before he arrived at the hospital, and had thought he had influenza (flu). His General Physician (GP) thought the same. Sadly, it was sepsis and we watched him just fall apart in front of our eyes on ITU. Nothing we did seemed to help. I knew that things might have been different had he been sent to the hospital sooner. Walking down that corridor to tell Karen, Thomas and Emily that her husband/their Dad wasnít coming home had a deep and profound impact on me.
When did the UKSepsis Trust begin and why? What is its current focus?
The Trust was conceived in March 2010 as a vehicle to raise funds to support efforts across the UK to raise awareness of sepsis and to facilitate improvement programs in health care. This was in recognition of the fact that no funding existed within Her Majesty's Government or the Department of Health to fund such initiatives. We focused on the intention to lobby Government and the NHS centrally to drive change.
Current priorities include:
1)Raising of funds
2)Support of a UK-wide education initiative for all health professionals known as Survive Sepsis.
3)Campaigning to raise awareness through the use of traditional/social media.
4)Development of an App across all major platforms that will allow junior doctors and nurses evaluate for the presence of sepsis easily.
5)We are also working with Ambulance Services and General (Family) Practitioners to explore how we can streamline recognition and treatment of sepsis across our health system.
Do other physicians care as much as you do?
Yes, others do. There exists a worldwide e-mail group and the Global Sepsis Alliance with around 200 impassioned clinicians and nurses contributing and sharing improvements and good practice.
What frustrates them the most about the illness?
Slow Emergency Response
Practitioners don't tend to suspect sepsis, so there is a lack of recognition due to low awareness. Because of this, more well known illnesses such as heart attacks and strokes get treated first. Because sepsis goes unrecognized, poor treatment is frequent, therefore patients languish for hours before intervention.
Outdated and Incorrect Coding
This is compounded by a lack of any national database or registry, and by the fact that ICD10 coding for sepsis is outdated. As a result, death certification and hospital coding tends to incorrectly record pneumonia or UTI, rather than the resulting sepsis which is the common mode of death. This means that national bodies such as the NHS don't pick up on sepsis as a major health issue.
Low Awareness within Community & Doctors
Similarly, in the community setting, there is low awareness of sepsis among the public and family doctors, meaning that presentation to hospital is often needlessly delayed.
Simple and Effective Treatment
Life-saving treatments can make a huge difference to outcome, and the most effective are as simple as early antibiotics and IV fluids.
How can a healthy person be at risk for sepsis?
Sepsis is indiscriminate, having no regard for lifestyle choices, age or co-existing health problems. Patients with compromised immune systems such as are found in diabetes and those at extremes of age, are at greatest risk. However, sepsis can strike out of the blue in patients who are previously fit and healthy.
Can you give some examples of cases?
Examples of patient stories are on our site, and we have many more!
What are 5 things a person can do to support this cause?
1) Sign our e-petition on-site at #2 below.
(UK Residents only)
2) Make a donation to the UK Sepsis Trust at
Donate to UK Sepsis Trust (read patient stories here)
3) Ask their Government Minister, Health Commissioner or other responsible individual what is being done in their health system about sepsis.
4) Watch out for Sepsis September and for World Sepsis Day 2012.
5) Switch on to Sepsis: Spend 5 minutes today asking questions about and researching sepsis, thereafter ask others what they know about sepsis, talk sepsis, and
If a loved one is sick ask their health professional-Might this be sepsis? Symptoms include: very high fever, racing heartbeat, violent vomiting, incoherence, and red splotches on the skin. If these occur, seek medical help immediately.
I believe these are great ideas and suggestions. Letís help spread awareness together by all avenues available. Share this information with your friends, neighbors, and doctors until this illness is defeated.
Dr. Ron Daniels is also chair of the U.K. Sepsis Group and a Member of Congress of the Global Sepsis Alliance. After Jeremy's death, his story was featured on regional television news, as well as in the Daily Mail, one of the U.K.'s national newspapers. Today, Jeremy's widow is a Trustee of the charity.
You can Follow Dr. Ron Daniels on Twitter @SepsisUK and click their link for more information.
The link to my article regarding Sepsis is below, as well as the link about my own experience with it which is listed within Rann's FAQ's also listed below.