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Altnagelvin Sepsis Learning Event asks ‘Could it Sepsis?’

30 January 2020

Altnagelvin Sepsis Learning Event asks ‘Could it Sepsis?’

Western Trust staff with Dr Mark Roberts Clinical Director, Improvement Hub for HSCQI  at the Sepsis Learning Event in Altnagelvin

Sepsis is a term which describes the most severe form of infection and is potentially fully treatable in a number of cases. Major regional improvement work is now underway to identify sepsis earlier and more consistently and to administer appropriate antibiotics swiftly. Healthcare staff in acute hospitals, across the region are working with the Health and Social Care Quality Improvement Hub in Northern Ireland to test this approach in the adult non-neutropenic and non-maternity setting. This regional improvement project will be spread across the NI acute sector once the prototype has been fully tested.

Whilst many people may have heard about sepsis, fewer know what is really is or what the symptoms are. Sepis is organ malfunction due to infection which may be life threatening and can develop very quickly. In an adult sepsis it may feel like you have flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection at first. Early symptoms include fever, chills and shivering, a fast heartbeat and quick breathing. Symptoms of sepsis or septic shock can include feeling dizzy or faint, confusion or disorientation, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin,

Dr Mark Vignesha Roberts, Clinical Director, Improvement Hub for HSCQI who is working with teams on the sepsis regional improvement work commented:

‘We are working to help our clinicians use their clinical skills, alongside the patient’s symptoms and signs and history to make a faster diagnosis of sepsis and give the antibiotics quicker once the diagnosis is made. The message we need our healthcare staff to think about is ‘Could it be sepsis?’

Giving patients with evidence of sepsis antibiotics quickly is one of the measures that we know improves the outcome for the patient, but this is only the case if antibiotics are protected from overuse, otherwise they lose their effectiveness.  Hence inappropriately using antibiotics for single viral or other self-limiting infections create challenges and patients and families need to help clinical staff in their quest to use antibiotics responsibly and not overuse them.  Media campaigns such as the recent ‘Antibiotic Guardian’ campaign have been reminding us all that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today.”

Speaking at the Sepsis Learning Event, Daryl Connolly, Quality Improvement Lead for the Western Trust commented “Sharing good practice and learning from others means making progress.   I have no doubt that working together with other Health and Social Care Trusts on regional ‘scale up and spread’ improvement projects will increase effectiveness and will create more opportunities to improve patient care.

Daryl added: “We were delighted to host the first of this series of Sepsis Learning Events for the region at Altnagelvin Hospital and the South West Acute Hospital.  It gave us the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the good work and progress already taking place within the Western Trust.  It also allowed us to highlight the importance of this particular ‘scale up and spread’ initiative to Trust clinicians, management and staff.”

At the Learning Event staff from the sepsis test sites spoke about the ongoing work, the learning and the progress being made.  Lee Soal, Sister in the Critical Care Outreach Team; Mark Hegarty, Systems Manager, ED; Laura Kyle, Sister ED Altnagelvin and Julie Collins, Sister ED, SWAH were all part of the team that presented. Dr Anne Kilgallen, Chief Executive  and Dr Bob Brown, Executive Director of Nursing/Director of Primary care and Older People Services both joined the event from SWAH and thanked staff for the ongoing sepsis work that the Altnagelvin and SWAH teams were engaged in and reinforced the importance of the sepsis work.

A number of sepsis learning events are being held at several hospitals across NI over the next few weeks. More information on the sepsis regional improvement work can be found on  

Click on where you can hear Dr Mark Roberts and Donna Gallagher, a nurse and family member of a surviving sepsis patient, discuss the importance of this regional work.