Sepsis decision 'putting lives at risk'

Sepsis decision 'putting lives at risk'
From BBC - September 3, 2017

A call for a national campaign to raise awareness of sepsis has been rejected by the Scottish government, BBC Scotland can reveal.

Campaigners described the decision as "absurd" and "complacent" and said ministers were putting lives at risk.

Sepsis kills about 3,500 people every year in Scotland and is caused when the immune system overreacts to infection.

Early identification is critical and treatment within an hour is vital to reducing the death rate.

The Scottish Parliament's public petitions committee had previously said a national awareness campaign was "appropriate" and asked the Scottish government if it would take it forward.

The government has now responded by saying it does not consider a public awareness campaign "necessary at this time".

It said its officials would meet sepsis charity FEAT (the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust) and explore other ways to raise awareness.

Health Secretary Shona Robison told BBC Scotland that the NHS's patient safety programme had been doing a lot of good work to reduce sepsis deaths, including getting treatment to patients within the first "golden hour" after diagnosis.

The latest estimated figures for sepsis suggest 44,000 people a year are dying in the UK from the condition and the Scottish government quotes a figure of 3,500, as a proportion of this mortality.

Its official statistician, the ISD, said problems with "coding" of sepsis deaths meant it was "currently difficult for us to define and accurately report on a complete picture".

The UK Sepsis Trust says the actual figure could be much higher.

Craig Stobo, who started FEAT after his wife Fiona - a Bo'ness GP - died in Edinburgh five years ago, said the Scottish government had done a lot of good work on sepsis but its decision not to run a national awareness campaign was "a public health scandal".

He said: "It is not acceptable at this stage to be complacent and it is not acceptable for them to take this line when the incidence of sepsis is still increasing.

"Frankly, tonight, tomorrow and next week there will be people dying because of their inaction."

He added: "Sepsis is a medical emergency. Too many people are still not aware of it. They need to act now. Every day they fail to act people will unnecessarily die.

"It is indiscriminate, it is sudden and devastating.

"The more people are aware of it, the better the chances of it being detected earlier and of treatment being successful."

The health secretary said: "Sepsis is a huge challenge for the NHS but huge progress has been made through the patient safety programme, with a reduction in sepsis mortality of 21% since 2012.

"There is a lot of work going on to ensure that the 'golden hour' of treatment is taken and the interventions that we know can save lives happen within that hour."

Ms Robison said she had worked with FEAT to raise awareness of sepsis and would discuss how they could do that in the future.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis, also known as septicaemia or blood poisoning, is the body's reaction to an infection.

Very low awareness of sepsis

What are the symptoms?


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