Musgrove hospital taunton

Improvements to sepsis treatment for chemo patients

Over nine in ten chemotherapy patients who present to Musgrove Park Hospital in an emergency are now getting vital antibiotics within an hour of arriving.

It follows the development of an alert card that has empowered nurses at Musgrove Park Hospital to give chemotherapy patients vital antibiotics against sepsis.

The innovative work has been shortlisted for the Health Service Journal’s patient safety awards.

It has led to a significant increase in the number of chemotherapy patients getting their antibiotics within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital as an emergency – from 67 per cent to 92 per cent since the card was introduced back in 2014.

During the first 12 months of the card being in use, a total of 414 patients presented to the hospital with suspected neutropenic sepsis, with 381 patients getting their first dose of antibiotics within 60 minutes.

Guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) states that patients are likely to have increased morbidity and are more likely to die if the administration of antibiotics is delayed beyond an hour.

Before 2014, when patients undergoing chemotherapy arrived at the hospital as an emergency, there were delays in prescribing antibiotics as neutropenic sepsis wasn’t considered by many as an emergency.

The neutropenic sepsis alert card is given to patients when they start a course of chemotherapy, with clinicians advising patients to keep hold of the card for at least six weeks after the completion of their treatment.

If a patient presents to the hospital as an emergency they should show staff the card, which gives nurses qualified in drug administration clearance to give the patient a dose of intravenous antibiotics within 60 minutes of their arrival without a medical review by a doctor.

Dr Jo Botten, specialty doctor in acute haemato-oncology at Musgrove Park Hospital, said she was proud that the hospital had been recognised for this potentially life-saving work.

“With sepsis being in the national news recently following updated NICE guidance published on the timely treatment of sepsis, we are pleased that the work we are doing at Musgrove has been recognised,” she said.

“The new card we have developed with our pharmacy department is a simple intervention, but it has really empowered our nurses to make a quick, potentially life-saving decision to treat patients showing signs of sepsis.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from other NHS organisations across the UK and hope they will use our learning to introduce something similar in other areas of the country.”

The hospital will find out whether it has won at the annual Patient Safety Congress in July.

Musgrove hospital taunton
Image courtesy of MPH Media Comms team
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