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Life-saving study into sepsis

Each year over a million people suffer from sepsis, a condition caused by an infection spreading through the body. If sepsis develops into severe sepsis then the death rate can rise to nearly 30 - 50%, equalling the number of deaths caused by a heart attack.

A University of Leicester research study has been conducted to examine the usefulness of a monitoring device in the early management of septic patients in an Emergency Department. The results of the study are likely to lead to improved care of patients with sepsis in the future and ultimately to save lives.

If recognised and treated early, sepsis has a favourable outcome but it can be difficult to diagnose and to appropriately treat sepsis at the early stage.

In some parts of the world patients with sepsis are currently treated by placing a thin catheter into a blood vessel close to the heart. This allows doctors to assess the patient’s condition and to guide therapy. However, this procedure is not without risk to the patient and is impractical for most UK Emergency Departments.

The Leicester research project is looking at a safe alternative approach in assessing and managing patients with sepsis at the earliest stage. This is the use of a special monitoring device, called a Thoracic Electrical Bioimpedance monitor (Niccomo), which provides doctors with more information about how well the patient’s heart is working.

Chris Vorwerk, a postgraduate student working on the project, commented: "I am an Emergency Physician (Specialist Registrar) working at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. Having seen many people dying from sepsis during my career as a doctor, it was my ambition to look into new ways of identifying and treating these patients at an early stage. This fits with my wider interest in the use of clinical risk assessment tools in the Emergency Department, which enable doctors to identify the sicker patients sooner, so that the right treatment can be started straight away."

The research is being presented to the public at the University of Leicester on Thursday 26th June. The Festival of Postgraduate Research introduces employers and the public to the next generation of innovators and cutting-edge researchers, and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to explain the real world implications of their research to a wide ranging audience.

More information about the Festival of Postgraduate Research is available at:

Ather Mirza | alfa
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