Friday, 19 April, 2024
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Updated sepsis guidelines in UK

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the health watchdog in England, has issued updated guidance recommending that people who are severely ill with suspected sepsis should get immediate life-saving access to antibiotics to prevent unnecessary deaths.

The agency said the national early warning score should be used to assess people with suspected sepsis aged 16 and over, who are not and have not recently been pregnant, and are in an acute hospital setting or ambulance.

The national early warning score is a tool endorsed by NHS England to standardise the assessment of severe illnesses in adults, reports The Guardian.

Sepsis causes an estimated 200 000 hospitalisations, and 48 000 deaths a year, in the UK.

With the update, NICE said more people would be categorised at a lower risk level where a sepsis diagnosis should be confirmed before being given antibiotics.

Professor Jonathan Benger, NICE’s chief medical officer, said: “This guidance will help ensure antibiotics are targeted to those at the greatest risk of severe sepsis, so they get rapid and effective treatment. It also supports clinicians to make informed, balanced decisions when prescribing antibiotics.

“Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose so it is vital there is clear guidance on the updated (national early warning score) to help save lives.”

Dr Ron Daniels, the founder and joint chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “We welcome this important update and particularly support that it continues to recommend the identification of high risk factors, while reinforcing the importance of clinical judgment to prevent injudicious use of antibiotics.

“The recommendation for GPs and ambulance services to consider how they give antibiotics to people at high risk of sepsis is increasingly relevant, as transit times increase, and could be potentially transformational in patient outcomes. These revisions help end a period of instability, with healthcare professionals previously facing varying guidance from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.”


NICE Guidelines (Open access)


The Guardian article – People severely ill with suspected sepsis should be given antibiotics, Nice says (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Sepsis more likely to kill poor people – UK cohort study


UK health ombud flags high sepsis death rate


Only one of four sepsis screening tools ‘reasonably accurate’ – German study


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