A new initiative to halt sepsis, a life-threatening infection, is being rolled out across every hospital ward in North Wales.
New ‘one-use’ medical boxes, which hold everything needed to quickly deliver crucial treatment for the condition, are being introduced to wards across the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) area.
All wards at Ysbyty Gwynedd currently hold the sepsis boxes, which are designed like an advent calendar and allow staff fast access to vital medical equipment, with step-by-step instructions.
They will now be made available to staff at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor Hospital. The boxes contain all of the resources needed to deliver the six critical steps for swift sepsis treatment and include an oxygen mask, fluid balance chart and specimen bottles, drips and fluids.
Sepsis is a life-threatening complication of an infection, which develops when chemicals produced by the immune system to fight an infection instead cause inflammation throughout the body.
Without early treatment, sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and even death.
The condition can be triggered by an infection in any part of the body but the most common sites leading to sepsis are the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.
The condition affects approximately 150,000 people every year in the UK, and results in an estimated 44,000 deaths – more than the number caused by bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.
Gill Harris, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “We’re working extremely hard to ensure our workforce has the best training, resources and equipment possible to deliver the highest quality care to our patients.
“This simple box is a life-saving addition to our wards and will ensure our nursing staff and clinicians are given the very best opportunity to reduce the threat of sepsis as quickly as possible.
“Sepsis is a real time critical condition where every second counts. Having everything in one place will save time and hopefully lives.”
BCUHB is also asking the public to help support the campaign by following guidance on infection prevention including cleaning hands at the bedside when visiting patients.
Tracy Savijn, Rapid Response to Acute Illness service improvement & development manager for BCUHB, said: “Treatment for sepsis is time sensitive. The quicker we treat, the increased chances of success.
“We’re working hard to raise awareness around the issue, and these packs will help staff identify when a patient’s condition is deteriorating and deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.
“Sepsis is a debilitating condition which can be life changing for patients, which is why we’re working extremely hard to equip staff with the best resources possible to tackle it.”
BCUHB has also developed a new chart to record a patient’s physiological observations. The information sheet contains flowcharts to prompt staff to screen a patient for sepsis and guides health workers on who and how to call for help.
Additional procedure packs containing resources for urinary catheters will also soon be introduced throughout BCUHB.
“All of these tools together will give the ward staff the confidence to commence treatment for sepsis whilst waiting for help from clinicians to arrive,” added Tracy.
The all-in-one kits are the latest initiative at BCUHB to tackle infections, and follows the Health Board’s Asepsis – Act Now campaign, launched just before Christmas in a further bid to prevent infections.
As part of the campaign, similar packs for inserting cannulas and taking blood samples were also introduced to wards in October last year.
Tracey Cooper, Assistant Director of Nursing for Infection Prevention, said: “The packs bring together the equipment needed to make it easier for staff to deliver high standards of care.
“By having it all in one place, we minimise the risk of infection and help save staff time.
“We’re continuing to work hard to find ways of helping our staff combat infection.
As part of the Asepsis – Act Now campaign, all clinical staff will complete additional training on the use and management of invasive devices, such as drips and catheters. Additional resources for trainers and assessors have also been made available throughout the Health Board.