New technology to speed up 'real killer' sepsis treatment

Sepsis will be diagnosed faster following the roll out of technology at Norfolk's three hospitals. 

EPA staff using the machine which will diagnose sepsis faster following the roll out of technology at Norfolk's three hospitals. - Credit: NNUH

Patients with suspected sepsis will see further speeding up of testing following the installation of new machines at all of Norfolk's hospitals. 

The BioMerieux BACT/Alert Virtuo blood culture machines will process hundreds of blood samples a week and have been installed in the laboratories of the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), in Gorleston, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), in King's Lynn.

Previously blood culture samples were sent to the microbiology lab at Norwich Research Park.

Now on site, tests will provide information to help clinical staff treat patients, including focused antibiotics at an earlier stage. 

Sepsis requires early diagnosis and treatment - if it is not treated quickly, it can turn into septic shock.


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Ben Fox, consultant anaesthetist and QEH sepsis lead, said: “Sepsis remains a real killer. Anything we can do to speed up its diagnosis is wonderful news for our patients so this initiative is really brilliant.”

When sepsis is suspected, a patient’s blood is collected and mixed with a sterile culture media to encourage the bug to grow so it can be identified by scientists in microbiology labs.

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Dr Priyadarshan Ambadkar, consultant paediatrician and neonatal lead at the JPUH, said: “This is really good news for everyone.

"It should take away many of the delays in the system for processing samples and will mean we will be able to treat patients more accurately.

"It will change how we manage neonates and provide 24-hour support to our clinicians. It’s a huge improvement for patient safety and means doctors should be able to prescribe the right medication much earlier.”

It has come through the Eastern Pathology Alliance to help diagnosis the serious life-threatening condition more quickly. 

Sepsis can occur in patients in the community or in hospital, with vulnerable patients and patients with chronic health conditions most at risk. 

Dr Reham Soliman, EPA consultant microbiologist and service director, said: “This improvement supports the government’s Sepsis 6 initiative which aims to improve diagnosis and survival from sepsis.

"I am delighted that Eastern Pathology Alliance Microbiology department is able to implement this quality improvement project for better outcome for our patients. I would like to thank everyone who has worked really hard to make it possible."

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