Only 14% of people can name a symptom of sepsis – a common yet mysterious illness.
A new nursing research project at Royal Perth Hospital is aiming to help more patients spot the signs of this life-threatening condition which accounted for 19.7% of all global deaths in 2017, second only to deaths associated with cardiovascular diseases. In Australia, 11% of ICU admissions are attributed to sepsis which kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
Sepsis occurs after an infection triggers an immune response within the body that attacks the body's own tissues and can lead to tissue inflammation and damage, resulting in organ failure and, ultimately, death. Furthermore, up to 50% of those that survive sepsis end up with a permanent disability or suffer long-term adverse health effects.
Early intervention is critical because severe organ failure can manifest in as little as a day.
RPH Emergency Department Nurse Jonathon ‘Jono’ Burcham received the Doreen McCarthy Nursing Research Grant to study the level of sepsis awareness in patients who report to an inner-city emergency department (ED) and investigate methods on how best to inform ED patients about sepsis.
Jono's pioneering approach will explore how to maximise patients’ retention of vital health information about sepsis.
A world-first, it will bring together researchers and stakeholders from a wide range of medical research disciplines.
“Early intervention is critical because sepsis progresses fast,” Jono said.
“Death, or severe organ failure, can manifest in as little as a day. Emergency nurses are well-trained to recognise the early signs and symptoms of sepsis. Nurses are also integral to the education and health awareness of patients. They form the front-line for fighting sepsis and raising awareness.”
The Doreen McCarthy Nursing Research Grant is a jointly funded initiative between RPH Research Foundation and the Royal Perth Hospital Nursing Research Foundation. It provides seed-funding for innovative projects being conducted by promising early career researchers. The grant stems from a rich history of nursing research in Western Australia.
RPH Research Foundation’s acting CEO Amanda Cox said :”Nursing research is a critical scientific field that strives to improve and adapt nursing practices and deliver better care to patients, their families and the community.”
Professor Doreen McCarthy, the namesake of the grant, was the former Director of Nursing at Royal Perth Hospital. Professor McCarthy advocated for nursing research and was instrumental in championing the role of nurses as researchers and the implementation of research into nursing practice.