Thousands of frontline medical staff across the NHS now have a new weapon in the fight against the killer condition sepsis.
An EMIS Health initiative backed by the UK Sepsis Trust and NHS England has seen the software used by thousands of doctors updated this week to include a sepsis alert system.
The EMIS Web clinical software used by 60,000 GP practice users per week has been updated using an algorithm developed by The UK Sepsis Trust, which works to raise awareness of the condition among clinicians.
Carefully designed to avoid over alerting the clinician, the algorithm provides a series of escalating prompts when a patient is displaying potential symptoms of sepsis. This is now live in all surgeries where GPs use EMIS Web software - more than half of all GP surgeries in England.
The sepsis safety net update builds on the capabilities presented by a sepsis management tool within Symphony, the EMIS Health clinical software system used by clinicians in hospital emergency departments.
It was developed and implemented as a result of discussions between EMIS Health, NHS England and the UK Sepsis Trust.
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon said: “Anyone using EMIS Health systems, in whatever part of healthcare, will now have more help in both recognising the key features of this potentially lethal illness and how they should care for patients.
“The threat posed by sepsis has rightly become a priority issue for NHS England and we have closely collaborated with NHS England, Sepsis Trust UK and GP experts to co-design a tool to make it easier for clinicians to identify cases as early as possible.”
The clinical software systems provided by EMIS Health already supports clinicians in early diagnosis of cancer and diabetes, and were recently updated to alert users to symptoms of the Zika virus.
An advocate of integration and interoperability across the NHS, EMIS Health will share details of its work on the sepsis identification update with other clinical system suppliers.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs, leading to shock, multiple organ failure and death, especially if not recognized early and treated promptly.
The UK Sepsis Trust estimates that 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK and that a third of those could have been saved with better awareness among clinicians and earlier treatment.
Ron Daniels said: "Coupled with the existing capabilities of the sepsis management tool within EMIS Health’s Symphony secondary care clinical system, this initiative supports frontline medical staff in identifying patients whose lives might depend on urgent hospital treatment.
“The speed at which this initiative has been executed is testament to the power of a concerted effort to tackle a condition that still claims thousands of lives each year. This is a major step forward in The UK Sepsis Trust’s work to support all clinicians in identifying symptoms of sepsis at the earliest possible moment.”
The sepsis update has been switched on at all GP surgeries using EMIS Web following a trial in a small number of pilot practices, including the Eaglescliffe Medical Practice, Stockton on Tees.
Dr Simon Stockley, a GP at the Eaglescliffe Medical Practice, supported NHS England and The UK Sepsis Trust in the creation of the EMIS Web sepsis identification update.
He said: “With 70% of sepsis cases coming from the community, it is clearly important that GPs and out of hospital clinicians recognise and react to the physiological signs present as an individual progresses from infection to sepsis.
“The sepsis update from EMIS Health will support clinicians in identifying patients who may be displaying signs of sepsis and ensure that they receive the prompt and appropriate action that could save their lives. The prompts are there to aid the clinician in making their assessment, recording and safety-netting.”