The public must be educated on the signs of sepsis to save thousands of lives lost each year, the RCN has said.
Between 1000 and 4000 under-fives die of sepsis every year in the UK, according to the UK Sepsis Trust. Yet there is not currently a universal, nationally validated system to identify deterioration in child patients. The RCN, at its annual congress, is calling for steps to be taken to ensure better recognition of the symptoms.
‘Sepsis in a child is so sudden. You can see a child who comes in looking like they have a common cold. You might send that child home. In a matter of an hour you see the child develop the symptoms of sepsis that are very clearly defined,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary.
‘By the time they have developed the stark symptoms of sepsis there's no way you can come back from that. It's really important that we get a way of ensuring that we diagnose this accurately.’
The organisation is calling for a nationwide rollout of a new system to enable signs of deterioration in any patient’s condition to be identified and acted upon quickly. Elements of the scheme – which monitors children’s vital signs, including heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and temperature – have been tested at specialist institutions including Great Ormond Street Hospital.
‘Nurses have been calling for a national standardised PEWS system for children for over 10 years now. Progress on delivering this has been too slow,’ said Fiona Smith, professional lead for children and young people at the RCN.