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Spotting sepsis as early as possible can save lives

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Sepsis arises when the body's response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. It may lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death and must be treated as a medical emergency. Sepsis has a 'golden hour' just like trauma, acute myocardial infarction and stroke. This 'golden hour' often starts outside of the hospital setting.


In the UK sepsis is estimated to be responsible for the deaths of 37,000 people every year and to cost the NHS £2.5bn2 (see Box 1). Sepsis now claims more lives than bowel and breast cancer combined and someone somewhere in the world will die from sepsis every three to four seconds. Globally this equates to between 20 and 30 million cases per year with over six million neonatal and early childhood deaths, and over 100,000 maternal deaths.1


NHS Wales has adopted several measures to tackle sepsis and these have been driven by the 1000 Lives Rapid Response to Acute Illness (RRAILS) Improvement Programme. This programme was rolled out across the acute in-hospital settings and includes:


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