ALL maternity staff working in Cwm Taf Health Board have been trained to recognise the signs of the life-threatening condition sepsis in pregnant women and new mothers.
The training is part of an organisation-wide drive to identify patients with sepsis and ensure they receive speedy treatment.
Other measures include the development and introduction of the sepsis response bag, which ensures all the equipment and medicines needed to start treatment of sepsis are available in one place.
Staff on the maternity wards at Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan hospitals wear information cards, which list the symptoms of sepsis, on lanyards around their necks.
The cards are part of the 1,000 Lives Plus maternity collaborative work. Sepsis is the most common cause of maternal death.
Senior midwife Ruth Friel said: “Sepsis can happen at any time during pregnancy and childbirth and it’s not just the mother who is at risk of developing the infection – the baby is too. If a baby is born with sepsis, it will need antibiotic treatment and to be admitted to the special care baby unit.
“Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose, which is why we have these prompt cards which the midwives use to highlight the symptoms they need to be looking for. This means that sepsis is much more at the forefront of their minds, which means that it’s more likely to be diagnosed early and women start the essential and life-saving treatment early.”
Sepsis is caused when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. It can lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if it is not recognised early and treated promptly.
Between a third and half of all sepsis patients die. It causes more deaths than prostate and breast cancer and HIV/Aids combined every year and, statistically, someone dies from sepsis every three to four seconds.
Sepsis is classed as a medical emergency but quickly identifying the often subtle symptoms and treating the patient with antibiotics and fluids can halve the risk of death.
The symptoms of sepsis include a raised temperature, increased pulse and breathing rate.
Measures to identify and treat sepsis have been introduced across Cwm Taf Health Board and include:
The assessment of all patients for signs of sepsis on admission to intensive care units at Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan hospitals and throughout their stays
The introduction of sepsis response bags on wards, which ensure all the medicines and equipment needed to start treatment of sepsis are readily available in one place.
Dr Richard Jones, a consultant anaesthetist and clinical director of anaesthetics, critical care and theatres at Cwm Taf Health Board, said: “Sepsis kills 2,000 people a year in Wales and harms a lot more. In Cwm Taf we are constantly improving our care for these patients - by recognising sepsis early and treating it early with simple measures we can make a real difference to survival.”
Cwm Taf Health Board will be raising awareness of sepsis as it marks the second annual World Sepsis Day with information stands at Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan hospitals.
World Sepsis Day, on September 13, is an international awareness day to raise the profile of sepsis and its treatment.
The stands, which will be manned by members of the critical care outreach team and midwives, will provide information about sepsis and its treatment – the Sepsis Six – within Cwm Taf to quickly identify and treat patients with sepsis.
Notes to Editors
The pictures show midwife Sara Wilkins with the sepsis prompt cards on the maternity ward at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, in Llantrisant and a close up of the sepsis prompt card.
More information about sepsis and World Sepsis Day is available at www.world-sepsis-day.org
NHS Wales World Sepsis Day Video, which features interviews from experts and patients about sepsis is available to watch on YouTube http://bit.ly/wsd13vid