September 9, 2019

Could new e-sepsis tech reduce levels of misdiagnosis in the NHS, even beyond sepsis?

Sepsis is a potentially life threatening condition where the body’s response to infection starts to destroy the body itself. Early recognition and treatment of sepsis can save lives, and there have been many advances to try and help in this regard. Since the introduction of e-sepsis, though, this Liverpool  trust has seen people receiving treatment faster and the death rate from sepsis drop as a result.

Even if World Sepsis Day wasn’t fast approaching, we seem to be hearing a lot more about sepsis in the media than ever before. As over 50,000 people lose their lives to sepsis every year in the UK alone, I can’t image there are many of us who have not been affected by sepsis in some way or another either.

In recent years a lot of work has been put into how to improve outcomes following sepsis, including the implementation of guidelines which involve administering intravenous antibiotics and fluid within just one hour of the initial diagnosis of sepsis. But sometimes, in a busy hospital environment, the signs and symptoms of sepsis can be missed.This is where e-sepsis comes in.

What is e-sepsis and how does it help?

E-sepsis draws a patient’s observation results and laboratory results together and automatically alerts the treating team when it detects a patient with signs and symptoms of sepsis.

Since e-sepsis was introduced at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, the trust has seen an increase in the number of patients receiving antibiotics within one hour of a diagnosis of sepsis, and the death rate from septic shock in under 45s reduced from 60% to just under 8%!

E-sepsis is not only saving lives but saving money too. The e-sepsis tool has reduced the length of time people have to stay in hospital and the trust estimates that 750 bed days will be saved each year.

Dr Paul Fitzsimmons, Chief Operating Officer of the Trust is excited about e-sepsis too:

“With e-sepsis, we have seen a major impact on sepsis care with lives saved. These are patients with confirmed sepsis where the clinician may not have considered sepsis as a diagnosis. In some cases, it would have been impossible to make a diagnosis of sepsis without the help of e-sepsis. By producing automated sepsis alerts from clinical information from multiple sources we are treating septic patients both faster and more effectively - helping our clinicians prioritise doing the right things first and reducing death rates in severe sepsis."

A clinical negligence solicitor’s view

As a lawyer working with adults and children who have been affected by a delay in recognising and treating sepsis, I am delighted to hear about the success of e-sepsis and look forward to its implementation on a country-wide or even global scale.

It seems clear to me that, in cases we have worked on where sepsis had been missed by clinicians, something like e-sepsis could very well have meant a much better outcome for many of our clients.

What’s more, with further beds available for patients with other conditions, thanks to this tech, the potential knock-on effects for mistakes on the NHS cannot be overstated. If the same principle could be applied to other rapid-onset conditions we see cases of, such as meningitis or cauda equina syndrome, there’s no telling what it could do to help avoid cases of unnecessary harm in England’s hospitals.

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