Posted on September 15, 2018

In recognition of World Sepsis Day, recognized annually on 13 September, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is raising awareness about the dangers of sepsis and promoting the importance of early detection and treatment among both staff and members of the public.

Sepsis is a serious illness which results from an infection that alters the body's normal response, causing injury to tissue and organs. Once contracted, sepsis and septic shock can quickly lead to the failure of organs, including the lungs, kidneys, and liver. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, every year around 30 million people die of sepsis across the world.

HMC’s Director of the Medical Critical Care Division and Chair of the Sepsis Steering Committee, Dr. Ibrahim Fawzy Hassan explained that some people have a higher risk of developing sepsis than others. “Anyone can develop sepsis, whether at home or in hospital, but some people are more at risk, especially if they have a compromised immune system; for instance babies, elderly people, patients with chronic diseases, and those who are on immunosuppressive medication,” said Dr. Fawzy. “The best way to help prevent sepsis from occurring is through practicing good hygiene through hand washing and other infection prevention practices, having safe water and sanitation, sanitary food preparation and nutrition, and getting proper vaccinations,” added Dr. Fawzy.

According to Dr. Fawzy, once sepsis is contracted, it is essential that the illness is diagnosed as early as possible and that appropriate antibiotic treatment is administered. He says treatment for severe cases of sepsis must be given within one hour of diagnosis, often referred to as the ‘golden hour’. In recent years, HMC has been working to implement a system-wide sepsis program with a standardized care pathway that facilitates early detection and treatment. The program, which was developed in collaboration with international experts, is currently being piloted across several HMC hospitals.

Dr. Ahmed Labib, Senior Consultant at the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Hamad General Hospital, said in recent years HMC, in collaboration with international experts, has introduced a sepsis program to standardize care pathways for patients with suspected sepsis. He said the development of the program has been a very complex undertaking. “There are different schools of thought relating to how best to diagnose sepsis and also when and what treatment to administer to which patient group. We have conducted a lot of research to develop a robust and sustainable, evidence-based program that is right for our clinical system,” said Dr. Labib.

Dr. Labib added that the sepsis program was part of a comprehensive patient safety agenda initiated at HMC in 2017 and includes key definitions, treatment guidelines, and staff roles and responsibilities. HMC’s sepsis program is also supported through the efforts of Qatar’s National Patient Safety Collaborative (NPSC), which is intended to help build a learning network nationally.

Dr. Nawal Al Tamimi, Leader of the National Patient Safety Collaborative and Executive Director of the Hamad Healthcare Quality Institute (HHQI), said the emphasis being placed on national efforts to tackle sepsis underscores the shared understanding that integration across the health sector is an essential ingredient in the delivery of system-wide improvements. “While clinicians at HMC have worked on a range of quality improvement projects over the past few years, the Ministry of Public Health mandated that sepsis care form the first line of defense in the comprehensive management of a series of significant health challenges by inter-professional and multi-disciplinary teams working across the public healthcare sector,” said Dr. Al Tamimi.

This week, staff at HMC will participate in activities being hosted in recognition of the Ministry of Public Health’s Qatar Patient Safety Week. Held from 16 to 22 September, this is Qatar Patient Safety Week’s fourth year. It is a national initiative created to raise awareness of patient safety and related concepts among all healthcare providers and members of the public.

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