Background Sepsis is associated with a 36% mortality rate rising up to 50% for septic shock. Currently when an East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) clinician recognises ‘red flag’ sepsis, only the oxygen and fluid elements of the ‘Sepsis 6’ care bundle are delivered, omitting the antibiotic therapy. Each hour antibiotics are delayed there is an increased risk of septic shock which is associated with a 7.6% greater risk of death. Ambulance clinicians are therefore appropriately placed to assess and commence treatment at the earliest point of recognition. The aim of this pilot was to assess the feasibility of paramedic training in recognising ‘red flag’ sepsis, obtaining blood cultures and administering a broad spectrum antibiotic to patients in the pre-hospital environment.
Methods A prospective six month feasibility pilot evaluation was introduced in May 2016. Paramedics were trained and given access to a broad spectrum antibiotic along with a patient group directive (PGD) to administer the antibiotic to ‘red flag’ sepsis patients. Training included sepsis recognition, taking of blood cultures and PGD compliance.
Results 20 paramedics volunteered and successfully completed the training. Of the patients that were identified as ‘red flag’ sepsis (n=113) 93% (n=107) were confirmed as infected by hospital record. 98 blood samples were harvested of which only 7.14% (n=7) were reported contaminated compared to an overall 8.48% of those taken in ED during the same time period. 80% (n=90) of patients assessed by paramedics met the criteria and were treated with meropenem. PGD compliance was 100%.
Conclusion EMAS paramedics were accurate and reliable in their recognition of identifying ‘red flag’ sepsis and able to administer meropenem safely in accordance with the PGD. EMAS paramedic blood sample contamination rate was lower than those taken in the ED.
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