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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Expert: New sepsis strategy could save a life a day in Qatar

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For illustrative purposes only
Photo for illustrative purposes only

A new initiative to educate people in Qatar about blood poisoning could help save hundreds of lives a year, a medical expert has said.

Some 5,000 Qatar residents contract sepsis every year, according to Dr. Ron Daniels, chief executive of the Global Sepsis Alliance.

Of those, about 20 percent (or 1,000 people) will die from the condition, which is triggered by infection or injury, he told Doha News.

We have an opportunity to reduce that toll to save an additional life every day – around 400 lives a year – (by putting) early detection in place.”

New HMC Sepsis program

Daniels added that doctors often fail to diagnose sepsis because they are “not alert to looking for it.”

To that effect, Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) launched a new program this week to help detect and treat sepsis in its early stages.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The initiative is being piloted in several HMC facilities over the coming months. It aims to improve both recognition of the condition and care after it has been diagnosed.

In a statement, Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed Fawzy, director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at HMC, said:

“Sepsis is the 10th leading cause of death in industrialized countries, and the leading cause of death in the intensive care unit (ICU).

This program is designed to provide a safety net system to prevent these patients from experiencing the complications of sepsis, such as end-organ failure and septic shock.”

The initiative aims to reduce death rates from sepsis across HMC hospitals by 25 percent within five years.

Mortality rate

The HMC program is based on a “bundle” of care called the Sepsis Six, which lays out three types of investigations and three treatments to reduce death rates.

HMC presentation at its Sepsis symposium
HMC presentation at its sepsis symposium

If successful, it could reduce Qatar’s mortality rate among sepsis patients, which Daniels said was currently about 20 percent.

Currently, the rate is similar to that of countries of the same size, like Scotland and Wales.

However, Daniels said Qatar does not have a large percentage of elderly residents, a factor that is potentially skewing the statistics.

“It’s something that can hit at any age – toddlers, even pre-toddlers. But it is most prevalent in the elderly,” he said.

He told Doha News that if the majority of Qatar’s sepsis patient are young, even greater strides could be made with the awareness program.

HMC may even be able to cut the mortality rate by half, as younger patients are more likely to recover if the condition is caught early on, Daniels added.

What is sepsis?

When a person develops sepsis, their immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight the infection.

This can result in a reduction of blood supply to vital organs like the heart and brain, a dangerous situation that can lead to disability and death.

Sepsis can affect patients of all ages, from the very old to the very young.

In 2014, Melissa Mead’s young son William died after doctors in the UK failed to realize he had sepsis.

She shared this video on social media to raise awareness:

The UK Sepsis Trust has produced a list six signs of sepsis to help people recognize it. They are:

  • Slurred speech or confusion;
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain;
  • Passing no urine (in a day);
  • Severe breathlessness;
  • “I feel like I might die” (delirium); and
  • Mottled or discolored skin.

Daniels said he didn’t want people to “live in fear” of sepsis, but added that one should keep the condition in mind if he/she becomes very unwell:

“If a person has an infection and starts to feel very much worse, and they feel they have never felt this unwell before, they need to have in the back of their mind that they should ask if this could be sepsis,” he said.

He added that as treatment for sepsis relies primarily on antibiotics, it is even more important that doctors try to reduce the unnecessary use of such drugs.

“This is one thing we need to preserve our antibiotics for,” he said.

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