Sepsis kills tens of thousands a year, but UK Trusts are recording only one in four cases
Research by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sepsis reveals an astonishing number of hospital Trusts are not properly recording the killer illness sepsis, which kills 37,000 people a year in the UK.
In England there are at least 112,000 cases of severe sepsis and septic shock each year. This is a figure nearly 4 times higher than the total reported by Trusts in response to Freedom of Information requests.
Trusts recorded a total of 23,368 cases of severe sepsis and 5,016 cases of septic shock - a total of 28,384 (25%) of the 112,000 total. These figures come despite the fact that 64% of Trusts reported that they have mechanisms in place for recording both forms of sepsis. 43 Trusts admitted to having no mechanisms in place at all.
The data also reveals that less than a third of Trusts (30%) frequently give patients the critical antibiotics for severe sepsis within the first hour of hospital care.
Dr Ron Daniels, co-author of the report and CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust which provides secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sepsis, said: 'There is a pressing need to improve the way sepsis is recognised, recorded and reported. Sepsis is a frighteningly common condition accountable for as many admissions to hospital as heart attacks. Appropriate resources must be available to deliver immediate and ongoing care to patients and relatives.'
Sarah Newton MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sepsis, said "Sepsis is a major killer and the first step to fighting it is recording it properly. There is huge room for improvement in how Trusts record sepsis and sepsis deaths."
The key findings of the report are:
- There is a pronounced recording error in hospitals for dealing with Sepsis. 64% of Trusts have mechanisms for recording severe sepsis but in 2012/13 only 260 cases of severe sepsis were recorded on average per Trust nationwide. This figure is significantly lower than international population figures, and data from UK studies.
- 72 out of 121 Trusts (60%) say they audit the time taken for patients to receive antibiotics in the first hour of hospital care, but data show that only 36 (30%) from 121 Trusts give patients antibiotics for severe sepsis frequently (75% or more). Data from other sources brings this into question.
- Individual Trusts recorded as few as 31 patients to as many as 170 patients diagnosed with septic shock in 2012/13.
- The 17 London Trusts who responded reported an average of 69 cases of septic shock over the 2010 to 2014 period, suggesting a total of 1,805 cases recorded by all 26 London Trusts. This is an extremely low figure for a population of over 8 million, which would imply around 80,000 cases - 44 times as many - over this four year period.
- Yorkshire and the Humber has the lowest percentage of Trusts regionally with a mechanism for recording Sepsis, at 42%.
- In the North East only 168 patients were diagnosed with septic shock in the four year period reviewed, this number is too low for a population of over 2.5 million.
- In the North West 5 Trusts have no data at all for the number of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis or septic shock and 8 have no recording mechanism.
- In the South East, 14 Trusts do not have Sepsis on the Trusts risk register.
- In the East Midlands half the Trusts who responded 3 lack a mechanism for recording incidents of severe sepsis and septic shock.
- In the South West, 71% of Trusts responded to having a mechanism for recording severe sepsis and septic shock
- West Midlands has the highest percentage of Trusts regionally with a mechanism for recording severe sepsis and septic shock at 85%