Dubbo workshop puts sepsis in the spotlight as deaths double

DOCTORS and nurses gathered at Dubbo yesterday to learn how they can better stop a killer.

Death from sepsis has more than doubled in the past decade and the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) has made a commitment to improving management of it.

About 115 clinicians and a Sydney-based team from the Clinical Excellence Commission attended a workshop organised by the LHD at Dubbo RSL Memorial Club.

The signs and symptoms of one of the world's most common yet least recognised diseases was on the agenda, along with innovations in dealing with it and saving lives.

Sepsis is an extreme immune system response to an infection spread by the bloodstream.

Severe sepsis often causes extremely low blood pressure, which limits blood flow and can result in organ failure and death.

Most vulnerable to the condition are infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Workshop co-ordinator and the LHD's clinical nurse consultant for critical care Carolyn Zimbiti said it aimed to raise awareness of the condition that was "on the rise".

She said the sepsis mortality rate had "more than doubled" in the past 10 years.

"We are doing more and more procedures and we are an ageing population," Ms Zimbiti said.

"The problem all over the world, not only Australia and not only our district, is that sepsis is very difficult to diagnose and treat.

"The LHD has made a commitment to improving how we manage sepsis. So this is a start, we're teaching people how to recognise it and how to treat it."

Signs of sepsis included having a temperature, low blood pressure and very fast heart beat, Ms Zimbiti said.

Workshop participants learned that a speedy response was essential.

"The more you delay the more it increases the mortality rate," Ms Zimbiti said.

"If we give antibiotics within the hour, chances of survival are very high."

Ms Zimbiti was "'so happy to see so many people turn up" to the conference.

"Once they leave here they'll go to their sites and they will teach even more people, and maybe later we can have another workshop," she said.

kim.bartley@ruralpress.com

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