Sepsis screening tool proves its worth

A new patient screening tool, which has been rolled out across Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, is proving a real life saver when it comes to spotting a potentially deadly condition.

Jeanette Jacobs, 72, of Winteringham, knows all too well how good the tool is, after being quickly diagnosed with the condition when she came into Scunthorpe General Hospital’s accident and emergency department.

She had started to feel unwell a few days earlier, putting it down to being a bit off colour following her flu vaccination. However, she continued to get worse and her husband took her to see her GP.

Jeanette said: “I just thought it was a reaction to the vaccination. I felt unwell and couldn’t keep any food or water down. By the time I got to the GPs he couldn’t get a blood pressure reading and my temperature was sky high. He called for an ambulance straight away.”

When Jeanette arrived in the accident and emergency department the staff took her observations, which triggered them into using the sepsis screening tool and administering intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Jeanette said: “I felt so much better within no time. I lost that grey look and had a bit of colour to me by the time I was moved to the clinical decision unit.

“If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of the A&E staff, I wouldn’t be here now. I owe my life to them and can’t thank them, and all of the other hospital staff, for the fantastic care I have received.”


Adele Lloyd, sepsis specialist nurse, said: “Sepsis can be triggered by any type of infection. The body’s immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions which can reduce the blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. It is essential to treat it with antibiotics as soon as possible to stop the body going into multiple organ failure.”


Adele has been instrumental in rolling out the new sepsis screening tool, which aims to identify patients quickly so that the ‘sepsis six’ care bundle can be started. She said: “Management of sepsis after admission to hospital usually involves three treatments and three tests, and these should be started within an hour of diagnosis.”


Treatment involves giving antibiotics, giving fluids intravenously and giving oxygen if levels are low.


She said the signs and symptoms of sepsis to look out for include:


  • A high temperature (fever) or low body temperature
  • Chills and shivering
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing


In some cases, symptoms of more severe sepsis or septic shock (when your blood pressures drops to a dangerously low level) the following symptoms may occur:


  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe breathlessness
  • Less urine production than normal
  • Cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
  • Unconsciousness.


This is the third time Jeanette has been admitted with sepsis. The first time she spent three weeks in hospital after feeling extremely poorly. Jeanette said: “I don’t recall anything of the first two days, I felt so ill.

“What I do know is that every time I have been brought to A&E the staff  have saved my life by diagnosing sepsis straight away and giving me the treatment I needed.”

Adele said: “The lifesaving work we do is down to team work, educating staff and establishing efficient systems, like the sepsis screening tool, to identify and treat infections appropriately.”


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