Student's near-fatal sepsis experience inspires first awareness day

More than 100 nursing students have been trained as Sepsis Champions to spot the signs of potentially fatal blood poisoning thanks to two first year Nursing students.

Katie Dutton and Kylie-Ann Johnson organised the event at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) this week with support from Leicester Royal Infirmary’s A&E sepsis team, the first of its kind in the country.

Katie and Kylie
Two years ago, Katie nearly died of blood poisoning when she was in hospital and was given a 15 per cent chance of survival.

She decided to use her experience to help save lives, and enrolled as a nurse at DMU. She and fellow student Kylie-Ann decided to organise an awareness day to help nursing students to be aware and spot the signs of sepsis, which kills more people than breast or bowel cancer combined in the UK.

Katie said: “I was determined not to let this beat me and to make an example of it, and make sure we’re lowering the number of sepsis cases. I wanted to help stop that happening to other patients, and hopefully inspire nurses to really read up about sepsis and to have it at the forefront of their mind. Student nurses are the fresh faces of the NHS, they are the ones going out into the hospitals and they have to be confident going out into practice and being able to recognise it.”

Katie in ITU

Katie had been admitted to hospital for a kidney infection when a line became infected. She said: “Within a week I started to hallucinate, I did not know where I was, and my temperature was 40.1C. The last thing I remember was waiting in a theatre thinking I was going to die. That’s the last thing I remember until I got better. My family were at my bedside in the ICU.”

She was treated with powerful antibiotics and made a full recovery but Katie knows she is one of the lucky ones. Around 44,000 people every year die of sepsis in the UK and it kills more people than breast and bowel cancer combined.

However it can be difficult to spot because the symptoms can easily be confused with less serious conditions.  

The University Hospitals of Leicester was the first in the country to bring in a dedicated sepsis team to support medics on wards.

Sepsis nurse Clair Ripley was at the awareness event to talk to the students about the help available in practice to nurses and practical steps they advise to speed up diagnosis.

Clair said: “Katie’s event is vital for sepsis care. I think it’s fantastic what she has managed to achieve and the response from students has been so good. Her colleagues are the nurses of tomorrow so it’s vital we tap into them as a resource and it becomes second nature to them to ask the question, ‘could it be sepsis’?”

So many people applied to come that there was not enough space, so a second event is being held later this year.

Judtih and students
Judith Sephton, lecturer, discusses how the condition progresses

Kylie-Ann said: “Originally, it was just going to be an event for our cohort but then things spiralled and we had over 210 people apply to come. We are hoping this can become a regular event at DMU and that student nurses feel much more confident now about spotting the signs and raising any issues.”

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First year nursing student Tania Kaur added: “There was lots of new information and when I go out on placement in two weeks’ time this is going to be fresh in my mind. Having Clair talk us through the process means we will definitely have this in the forefront of our minds.”

Danielle Hobson, who is about to go into her third year, said: “It’s been very useful and I am glad that I came, I learned a lot.”

Richard Postance, senior lecturer in learning disability nursing, said he was proud of all their efforts. He said: “It has been a brilliant effort. They have worked so hard on this and the feedback from the students has been so positive.”
The event was supported by the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, and #DMUlocal.

Posted on Tuesday 9th January 2018

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