It’s known as the silent killer and takes more lives than the annual road toll.
Today the Australian Sepsis Network and The George Institute for Global Health have launched a national action plan to reduce the number of people who lose their lives each year to sepsis – a life threatening illness that occurs when the body’s response to infection injures tissues and organs.
Every year at least 18,000 Australians are diagnosed with sepsis, with around 5000 losing their lives.
The report ‘Stopping Sepsis’ sets out an action plan to drive improvements in the treatment and recovery of patients with sepsis focusing on four key recommendations:
- Increasing recognition of sepsis through a national awareness campaign targeting all age groups, including vulnerable groups such as children. More than 50 per cent of sepsis deaths in children occur within 24 hours so it is essential parents are aware of early symptoms and seek urgent medical care.
- Providing more community and peer support for survivors of sepsis and their families. Many are left with horrendous life changing conditions, including amputation and PTSD.
- Establishing a nationally recognised clinical standard of care for sepsis detection and treatment, and improve in hospital care by establishing dedicated sepsis teams. .
- Setting up a national sepsis body to drive and co-ordinate research, to measure the true incidence of sepsis by improving reporting, and to introduce alert systems in hospitals across Australia to ensure treatment starts as early as possible.
The action plan is backed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society and the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission as well as leading health policy professionals and sepsis survivors.
Professor Simon Finfer, head of the Australian Sepsis Network, said that whilst sepsis was often difficult to detect, it can be prevented and treated successfully if diagnosed quickly. “Sepsis kills more Australians each year than breast or prostate cancer, but there’s no public outcry about this, or national campaign to reduce the shockingly high death rate.
“Sepsis can be prevented and, in many cases, can be treated successfully. We need to ensure that when patients present with symptoms they receive the best care possible, and that treatment begins as quickly as possible,” said Professor Finfer.
Sepsis is estimated to cost Australia $1.5 billion each year with many cases beginning in the community rather than in hospitals.
For those that survive, half are left with a disability or impaired function that also impacts their family and friends.
The national action plan is a call for increased and coordinated efforts to raise awareness of sepsis, improve diagnosis and treatment, and provide greater support for Australians who have experienced sepsis.