12 days of sepsis: Hospital's song keeps staff vigilant to spot symptoms of dangerous infection

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 December 2017

Midwives with the sepsis sleigh.

Midwives with the sepsis sleigh.

James Merrell

Hospital staff have composed a festive song as a reminder to look out for the symptoms of a potentially-deadly infection.

Weston General Hospital’s choir, the Sliding Scales, have been singing the 12 Days Of Sepsis this Christmas, to remind staff to be on the look out for anyone exhibiting symptoms.

Sepsis affects 225,000 people a year in the UK, and 44,000 of them die from it. It kills more people a year than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

James Merrell is the hospital’s lead nurse for identifying sepsis, and worked with doctors to write the song.

He said: “The hospital is working really hard training staff to ensure we are treating sepsis quickly when patients do come in.

“The trouble with sepsis is it is quite difficult to spot because a lot of the symptoms are very similar to a lot of other conditions.”

Identifying sepsis is even more difficult in the winter, because so many of the symptoms are flu-like.

James said: “You can get sepsis from a cut on your hand, or from having dental surgery, or a chest infection.

“We are training staff to recognise the symptoms and treat patients within one hour.”

James said the steps to save people’s lives are simple, and the faster sepsis is treated, the better the outcome for patients.

But despite the danger sepsis poses, it is not commonly known about, and many patients diagnosed with it had not heard of it before. The hospital, therefore, is not just training staff but wants to improve people’s awareness of the infection.

James said: “At home, if there is an underlying infection and you are worried they are becoming more unwell, the symptoms are they might feel their heart racing, they might have palpitations, and find their breath is fast or they are struggling for breath.

“They might have a rash, though that is not in all cases, and their speech may be slurred.

“We are asking people to ask that simple question – could it be sepsis?

“We can reverse the effects really quickly if it is identified quickly enough.

“For every hour which goes by and left untreated, the mortality risk goes up by eight per cent an hour.”

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