A pilot study exploring the accuracy of pre-hospital sepsis recognition in the North East Ambulance Service

Graham McClelland
September 2015

Background:Over the past decade there has been a focus on improving pre-hospital recognition and treatment of patients with sepsis. This pilot study investigates pre-hospital sepsis recognition, including the use of a Sepsis Screening Tool (SST), treatment and whether timely identification influenced the time to treatment and outcome at the receiving unit.Methods:A cross-sectional sample of patients with a documented suspicion of sepsis by North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) was combined and cross referenced with patients coded for sepsis at The James Cook University Hospital (JCUH) to generate a sample of sepsis patients seen within January 2014. NEAS sepsis recognition was compared with SST identification by retrospectively examining patients' medical records. Sensitivity and specificity for NEAS diagnosis were calculated by comparing NEAS identification with JCUH diagnosis using the hospital SST.Results:The sample included 49 patients from January 2014. NEAS correctly identified 18/42 patients with sepsis (43% sensitivity, 14% specificity). NEAS correctly identified 8/27 patients with severe sepsis (30% sensitivity, 77% specificity).Conclusions:It is evident that NEAS clinicians diagnose sepsis without consistently using the SST. Use of the SST would improve the ability of NEAS clinicians to identify patients with sepsis.

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