NICE: Treat sepsis within an hour

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has called on hospital staff to treat people with life-threatening sepsis symptoms within one hour.

In a new draft quality standard, NICE says people should be assessed carefully. When a patient is classed as high-risk, they should be reviewed and treated within one hour.

Professor Gillian Leng, NICE deputy chief executive, said: “Severe symptoms can develop in sepsis very quickly. If high-risk patients are not identified and treated promptly, people can be left with debilitating problems. In the worst cases, they may die.

“This quality standard highlights priorities in the continued fight to improve sepsis care. We know from recent case reviews that there are inconsistencies in how people’s symptoms are assessed in different settings. More can be done to provide rapid treatment.”

The quality standard draws out recommendations from NICE’s 2016 guideline.

It states that health professionals in any setting such as GPs, paramedics and A&E staff, should check people with suspected sepsis for specific signs that determine whether their symptoms are life-threatening. This includes recording vital signs like temperature and heart rate, as well as checking for rashes and skin discolouration.

Anyone identified as high-risk should be reviewed immediately by senior hospital staff. They should get antibiotics and intravenous (IV) fluid treatment within one hour. If it will take more than an hour to get to hospital, antibiotics can be given in GP practices or by ambulance staff.

The 2015 report by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death highlighted that 40% of people admitted to A&E with sepsis did not have a timely review by a senior clinician.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Every death from sepsis is a tragedy, yet too often the warning signs are missed - we need to get far better at spotting sepsis across the NHS and this advice shows how vital it is for clinicians to treat life-threatening symptoms as soon as possible.

“Our relentless drive to raise awareness of this deadly condition, as well as the tireless efforts of campaigners and families who have lost loved ones, has seen a million leaflets and posters already distributed to GP clinics, hospitals and other public places - helping raise awareness to fight against this devastating condition.”

The quality standard also states that people who are classed as being low-risk should be given information on what to do if they continue to feel unwell and how to get further medical help.

The draft quality standard is now out for public consultation until Friday 7 April 2017.

NICE quality standards are developed following consultation with key organisations to find out their views on current practice and what needs to be done to provide better quality care.