NEAS wins an award for research

NEAS wins an award for research

It's largely unknown to the general public, and poorly understood by many health professionals, yet sepsis - the immune system's response to a serious infection - is one of the deadliest conditions known to man.

Now NEAS has earned a national award from Swansea University's "TRUST" group, which acts as a network for organisations across the UK involved in emergency and trauma care research, has now honoured their work.

In 2012, NEAS introduced a screening system which identified patients showing signs of sepsis. This meant NEAS could send a pre-alert to hospitals in the North East, warning them that a patient with suspected sepsis was en-route.

Early recognition of sepsis by paramedics means the hospital can be ready to start their treatment without delay on arrival. Pre-alerting hospital and starting antibiotic therapy has been shown to reduce deaths from this condition.

The research work was carried out by Graham McClelland and Paul Younger, who both work as Research Paramedics at NEAS.

Graham and Paul's work was one of 26 projects presented at the Cardiff conference in February - and was named "Research Most Likely to Affect Practice."

Globally, more than twenty to thirty million people are affected every year, claiming more lives in the UK than lung cancer or bowel and breast cancer combined. Sepsis is claimed to kill 37,000 people in the UK every year. A person dies from sepsis somewhere in the world every few seconds.

Well known victims of sepsis include Pope John Paul II, Superman actor Christopher Reeve, "Grease" actor Jeff Conoway, and Muppets creator Jim Henson.

NEAS is teaching all staff about the illness, which is often confused with blood poisoning, as part of its continuing education and development program

The symptoms of sepsis are not caused by the microbes themselves. Instead, chemicals the body releases cause the response.

A bacterial infection anywhere in the body may set off the response that leads to sepsis. Common places where an infection might start include:

  • The bloodstream
  • The bones (common in children)
  • The bowel (usually seen with peritonitis)
  • The kidneys (upper urinary tract infection or pyelonephritis)
  • The lining of the brain (meningitis)
  • The liver or gallbladder
  • The lungs ( bacterial pneumonia)
  • The skin ( cellulitis)

For patients in hospital, common sites of infection include intravenous lines, surgical wounds, surgical drains, and sites of skin breakdown known as bedsores (decubitus ulcers).

Paul Younger, NEAS Research Paramedic, said: "It was a great honour to be recognised by our peers for the work we have undertaken to improve our understanding and recognition of sepsis in the North East"

Graham McClelland, NEAS Research Paramedic, said: "Our work highlights the efforts being made by paramedics to improve their treatment for this group of patients"

In the developed world, sepsis is dramatically increasing by an annual rate of between 8-13 % Reasons are diverse, but include the aging population, increasing use of high-risk interventions in all age groups, and the development of drug-resistant and more virulent varieties of infections.

In the developing world malnutrition, poverty, lack of access to vaccines and timely treatment all contribute to death.

Share this page

Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

Back to top

Enable Recite