Sepsis tool developed

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Peter Walsh (middle row, left) with staff from South West Healthcare's emergency department. Picture: Anthony Brady

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Peter Walsh (middle row, left) with staff from South West Healthcare's emergency department. Picture: Anthony Brady

SOUTH West Healthcare has used World Sepsis Day to unveil a new assessment tool to help treat the life-threatening condition.

On Tuesday, keynote lectures and case studies were presented to SWH’s emergency department staff.

Sepsis is one of the leading causes of death in hospitals worldwide with intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand treating 15,000 episodes of severe sepsis and septic shock each year.

Sepsis is when the body's response to infection injures its own tissues and organs.

The new assessment tool includes a checklist of symptoms and procedures. 

SWH emergency care clinical network leader Dr Susan Thomas said the new assessment tool is being used in the emergency department in Warrnambool.

“In a nutshell, what this project is about is identifying and recognising patients with sepsis,” Dr Thomas said.

“We’ve aimed at making a tool to make recognition quicker and easier in the emergency department.

“Once recognition comes, we are aiming to treat those patients very quickly and for the want of a better word, more aggressively.

“With sepsis, one in five people will die from septic shock, compared to someone who comes in with a major heart attack, their likelihood of dying from that is about seven per cent. 

“If sepsis is treated within a couple of hours, survival rate is over 80 per cent. Go forward to 36 hours and that survival likelihood drops to three to five per cent.

“The whole thing about sepsis is it’s not the bug itself, it’s what the body's response to the infection is.

“No one size fits all, it’s different to a heart attack or asthma where it is obvious, with sepsis it’s not.”

Dr Thomas said 80 per cent of sepsis cases come into emergency departments and GP clinics from the community while 20 per cent occur while a patient is in hospital.  

It is believed SWH is one of the first regional hospitals in Victoria to come up with its own sepsis assessment tool.

One of the guest presenters on Tuesday was Cobden man Peter Walsh.

In 2006, Mr Walsh contracted sepsis, losing both hands, his left leg below the knee and his right foot.

In 2011, he became the world’s oldest hand transplant recipient.

Mr Walsh praised the work of medical staff in helping to save his life.

“When I got crook I went to the hospital in Camperdown and the doctor put three lots of stuff into me,” Mr Walsh said.

“That got me to Warrnambool and I was one of the lucky ones to get through it.”

Mr Walsh has regular check-ups and said his health is holding up well.    

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