New training for staff on sepsis in children

New training designed to help staff spot the signs of sepsis in children has been created in a first for the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Nurses have devised a new e-learning course for all staff who care for children at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust.

Gemma Bradley, nurse educator and Laura Malton, children’s nurse who designed the new e-learning package

Gemma Bradley, nurse educator, recognised there was a gap in the training needs of staff. She said: “Sepsis can be very difficult to diagnose in children as the signs can be very subtle. While we did have existing training for staff it was very much focused on adults.”

There’s no national paediatric training module available and Gemma contacted other Trust’s and could only find one that offered specific paediatric training on sepsis, and that was at a children’s hospital.

Gemma and children’s nurse Laura Malton worked on the content and then teamed up with the information services team to create a bespoke and interactive online course.

Gemma said: “I’d previously been delivering face-to-face sessions to staff, but now we have the new e-learning package staff can complete the training at a time that suits them and we’ll be able to reach more people.”

The training is being made mandatory for all staff who care for children, whether on the children’s wards, in outpatients or in A&E. Staff will be required to complete it every two years.

The training covers the signs and symptoms of sepsis and septic shock, the six actions of early sepsis treatment, the importance of listening to concerns from parents and offering them ‘safety net’ advice including when to return to hospital to have their child assessed again.

Every year 25,000 children nationally are affected by sepsis, which is a complication of any existing infection. It can evolve rapidly in children so it is important for parents to look out for the following signs and symptoms in their unwell child and take the advised action:

Dial 999:

• When the child looks mottled bluish or pale, is very lethargic or difficult to wake, feels abnormally cold to touch, is breathing very fast, has a rash that does not fade, or has a fit or convulsion.

Dial 111 or seek medical advice urgently if the following symptoms are present:

  • A temperature over 38.C in a baby less than three months old, over 39.C in babies three to six months old, a very low temperature at any age, or a high temperature in a child who does not recover as expected with simple paracetamol and fluids
  • Noisy ‘grunting’ breathing, harder and faster breathing, or pauses in breathing
  • No wee or wet nappies for 12 hours
  • No interest in feeding, no drinking for more than eight hours when awake, or green, bloody or black vomit
  • Bulging soft spot, sunken eyes or floppy baby. Weak whining or continuous cry, a child who is confused, irritable or not responding.
  • Laura said: “Individual symptoms don’t always mean the child has sepsis, but it is important for parents to trust their instincts if they are concerned and seek medical advice as soon as possible so their child can be assessed.”

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