Yesterday I attended the first day of the Sepsis Unplugged conference 2016, organised by the UK Sepsis Trust. The conference aims to bring together clinicians and patient groups to effect change and "shape better care for patients with sepsis."
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection injures its own tissues and organs. Although every year in the UK there are 150,000 cases of sepsis, it is not a term with much public recognition. The UK Sepsis Trust aims to change this.
The event started off with sepsis survivors and bereaved relatives bravely sharing their experiences of sepsis and how care can be improved from a patient's perspective. Amongst them was Lord Ashcroft, whose speech described how he spent 19 days in intensive care as a result of sepsis and his involvement in raising awareness of the condition.
Sepsis is a treatable condition, if caught and treated early, but it can be hard to diagnose. Throughout the day it was good to see clinicians sharing their ideas for diagnosing sepsis sooner and reducing the time before treatment begins and demonstrating the improvements they have achieved so far.
The conference also brought home the broader effects of sepsis for patients and families, and the fact that more needs to be done not only to diagnose sepsis sooner, but to help patients once they leave hospital to deal with the on going effects.
I was really inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment of those taking part in the conference to improve the treatment of sepsis and increase awareness of the condition amongst clinicians and the public. There is still a lot more to be done, but events like these are an important step in the right direction.
This new type of conference is needed because today sepsis claims more lives than breast cancer, bowel cancer, prostate cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. Globally, it is now estimated to kill more people than tobacco. Traditional academic meetings have failed to reliably improve outcomes or engage the wider healthcare system.