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Sepsis is an Emergency Condition

NICE Guidance - Treat suspected Sepsis the same as Heart Attack

1

Sepsis is an Emergency Condition

NICE Guidance - Treat suspected Sepsis the same as Heart Attack

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have issued advice and guidance which states that suspected sepsis in all patients must be treated as an emergency – in the same way as suspected heart attacks are.

Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to infection and can lead to severe organ failure. In the UK, 44,000 deaths per year are attributed to sepsis but clinical experts estimate that between 5,000 and 13,000 of these could be avoided if sepsis is diagnosed and treated much earlier. The initial symptoms of sepsis are difficult to diagnose and therefore it is challenging to distinguish sepsis from other health conditions.

Experts argue that if sepsis is always considered as a likely possibility when a patient presents with infection, delays in diagnosis could potentially be avoided. Therefore, guidance asks that treatment is given in a similar manner to a patient presenting with possible symptoms of a heart attack (e.g. chest pain). As symptoms of sepsis can be mild (e.g. ranging from flu-like symptoms to general feelings of being unwell), it is important to take careful note of the patients history and confirm they have no cuts or other underlying factors such as a urine infection. Once sepsis manifests in the body, the immune system overreacts and this can lead to shock and death in high risk cases.

As infection can set in quickly, clinicians, nurses, GPs and other health care team members must be encouraged to start to think “Could this be sepsis?” rather than waiting for sepsis to become serious and more easily identifiable. The new guidelines suggest that patients with possible sepsis should be treated as being seriously ill and admitted immediately to hospital. 

 

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have issued advice and guidance which states that suspected sepsis in all patients must be treated as an emergency – in the same way as suspected heart attacks are.

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