A recent study conducted in Germany has found that half of the screening tools used by emergency medics to detect sepsis in patients are “inadequate.” The study examined the effectiveness of four internationally-recommended screening tools for sepsis: NEWS-2, qSOFA, MEWS, and SIRS. The data collected from 221,429 patients seen by emergency medical services in Germany in 2016 revealed that only one of the four systems, NEWS-2, had a reasonably accurate prediction rate, with a sensitivity rate of 72.7%.
Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is a life-threatening condition that can occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection. It can lead to organ failure and death if not treated promptly. In England alone, there are approximately 123,000 cases of sepsis each year, resulting in about 36,800 deaths.
The findings of this study highlight the need for improved support for emergency services and better screening tools to reduce death rates from sepsis. The researchers noted that paramedics rarely documented a suspicion of sepsis, emphasizing the low recognition of the condition. The study compared all four screening tools and demonstrated the predictive usefulness of applying them to all adult patients, regardless of any presumptions or preliminary diagnoses by emergency medical services.
The study’s results raise important questions about the effectiveness of current sepsis screening practices and call for the development of new guidelines on sepsis screening. The UK government recently committed to implementing “Martha’s rule” in England, which gives patients the right to a second opinion if they believe their concerns are being dismissed by NHS staff. This rule aims to improve patient outcomes and provide better support for those at risk of sepsis.
It is essential that healthcare systems prioritize sepsis screening and awareness to ensure early detection and prompt treatment. While screening tools such as NEWS-2 have shown promise, further research is needed to refine and improve these tools to effectively identify patients at risk of sepsis. By implementing more accurate screening practices and increasing awareness, we can work towards reducing the devastating impact of sepsis on individuals and communities.