Staff, patients and carers linked up to help spread awareness of the signs of sepsis through the West Herts #ChainofAction last month.
Three thousand fluorescent orange paper links were distributed across West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust in the run up to World Sepsis Day on September 13 to create a paper chain filled with words and phrases associated with sepsis.
Hundreds of people contributed and the chain provided a visual trigger for staff and the public to ask – ‘could it be sepsis?’
Sepsis kills 44,000 people a year in the UK and 70 per cent of cases occur away from a hospital setting.
Also known as blood poisoning, sepsis is the immune system’s overreaction to infection or injury and initially looks like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection.
With early diagnosis sepsis can be treated with antibiotics. But not spotting the signs of sepsis can be fatal.
No one is more acutely aware of this than dad of three, Daren Fletcher.
The usually fit and healthy osteopath spent three days in intensive care (ITU) at Watford General Hospital being treated for sepsis after contracting pneumonia.
The day he ended up in ITU began with Daren experiencing flu-like symptoms and chest pain.
He commuted as usual into London and after visiting a private GP, who sent him to hospital where he was prescribed antibiotics and had a chest x-ray, he began to feel a little better.
By the afternoon, Daren had decided to take the train home as he felt so ill.
He was incoherent in his phone calls and messages to his family and he was so exhausted by the time he returned to Watford Junction that he could barely walk. He was taken by ambulance to Watford General A&E.
Daren responded well to treatment in ITU and after five days, he returned home to his family.
Former ITU nurses Moira Surridge and Sarah Lafbery work relentlessly to improve the recognition and early treatment of sepsis.
Through their efforts, the number of patients who are screened on admission for suspected sepsis has risen from 46 per cent in 2015 to 92 per cent in three years.
And the number of patients who receive intravenous antibiotics within an hour of a sepsis diagnosis is now at 94 per cent compared with 58 per cent in 2015.