TUH Raises Awareness of Signs & Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis Awareness March 2024(March 28th 2024) Tallaght University Hospital this week launched a campaign to highlight the signs and symptoms of the life-threatening condition, sepsis. Activities taking place in the Hospital throughout the week include public information stands and staff awareness events promoting the ‘Sepsis 6’ which is the national framework for the treatment of Sepsis and highlighting mandatory training for clinical staff. 

Sepsis requires urgent medical attention and can hide behind any infection, at any age, making it hard to detect. There are around 13,000 cases of sepsis notified in the health service each year and one in five people who develop sepsis die from it. As symptoms of sepsis can often be mistaken for something else, the Hospital is advising people who have an infection and are not getting better to ask ‘Could it be sepsis?”

A new national public information campaign launched recently in collaboration with patient advocates to highlight the signs and symptoms of the life-threatening condition, sepsis. It comes as new research* shows a high awareness of sepsis among the public, but a low knowledge of the signs and symptoms of sepsis.

Research Findings:

  • 39% of adults say they’re not very aware or not aware at all of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, a further 24% are unsure.
  • fever is the symptom most associated with sepsis however, it’s also easy to confuse this symptom with other conditions
  • 51% of adults would not be confident in dealing with someone they suspect of having sepsis

Aine Lynch, Director of Nursing & Integrated Care at TUH said, “Sepsis can arise out of any infection, at any time. Exhaustion, quick-breathing, shivers and pains, confusion and a feeling that you’re going to die, not passing urine, these are all signs that it could be sepsis. Sepsis is a serious condition that requires urgent treatment. It’s also important to know that symptoms can be different in adults and children so I would encourage people to visit hse.ie/sepsis to learn more about the signs and symptoms.”

Karen D. Holden, Assistant Director of Nursing, Sepsis, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group said, “Over 13,000 patients receive treatment for sepsis in Irish hospitals each year. One in five patients will die. Sepsis kills more people each year than heart attacks, stroke or almost any cancer. People should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of sepsis as it may help to save lives. I would encourage people to always ask ‘Could it be sepsis?”

Dr. Anna Rose Prior, Consultant Clinical Microbiologist at TUH said, “Sepsis is a cause of significant illness, some of which is preventable. This campaign aims to help people to recognise the signs and symptoms of sepsis as we know that early treatment can lead to better outcomes. It is very important that all our clinical staff undertake the HSE mandatory training on Sepsis management. We continue to work with colleagues across our hospital, providing sepsis training and resources for the effective management of this life-threatening condition.”

The HSE campaign will run on local and national radio and across social media channels. As part of the campaign development, the HSE engaged with patient advocates and the Irish Sepsis Foundation to help inform the communications. New sepsis information leaflets were also developed in late 2023 and distributed to GPs and pharmacies.

Signs and symptoms of sepsis in adults (including maternity) are:
S Slurred speech, new confusion, too sick to communicate, drowsiness
E Extreme shivering, muscle aches, fever
P Has not passed urine in the last 12 hours and does not feel like passing urine
S Shortness of breath, lips tinged with blue, feels like your heart is racing, dizzy when you sit or stand
I I feel like I'm going to die
S Skin mottled and discoloured, new rash that is still visible when pressed on with a clear glass (glass test).

 The signs and symptoms of sepsis in children are:

  • Very fast breathing
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Mottled skin (irregular colour) bluish or pale
  • A rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Unusually sleepy and difficult to wake
  • Unusually cold when you touch them
  • Has had no pee for more than 12 hours

 Sepsis videos – adults
Aisling O’Rourke - Campaign aims to increase knowledge of sepsis symptoms
Cathal O’Donnell, Clinical Director, National Ambulance Service
Yvonne Young, National Sepsis Team
Maternal Sepsis KarnCliffe, Director of Midwifery

 Sepsis videos – children


Notes to Editor: *Research was carried out by Red C in partnership with the HSE. Further information is available upon request