Patient Care

EMS May Not Be Prepared to Treat Children for Sepsis

Image taken from Sepsis Alliance video.
Sepsis Alliance video

SAN DIEGO — Sepsis Alliance and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) released the results of their Pediatric Sepsis and EMS survey. The survey found that only 41% of emergency medical services providers (EMS) are very confident in their ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis in children. This is in contrast to the majority (82%) of EMS who are very confident in recognizing pediatric asthma. Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to infection.

Related: Sepsis Early Recognition and Treatment in Prehospital Setting Vital for Patient Outcomes

In the United States, sepsis takes the lives of more children than pediatric cancers and accounts for 100,000 pediatric emergency department visits each year. Yet, only 54% of survey respondents are very aware of sepsis symptoms in children. In addition, 66% of respondents do not often initiate treatment in the field for pediatric patients with sepsis.

“It is extremely worrying to learn that a majority of EMS are often not starting lifesaving treatment in the field, because the data consistently show that early sepsis treatment saves lives and improves outcomes,” said Rom Duckworth, LP, award-winning EMS Educator, career Fire Captain with 30 years of experience, and Sepsis Alliance Advisory Board member.

“Recognizing the signs and symptoms of sepsis in our youngest patients should be a priority for EMS organizations, to increase practitioner confidence,” said Dr. Katherine Remick, Emergency Pediatric Care Medical Director, NAEMT. “NAEMT, in partnership with Sepsis Alliance, is committed to providing prehospital practitioners with the education to recognize and treat sepsis in the field.”

Related: Effective Prehospital Sepsis Screening Tool in Orange County, Fla., Helps Identify Severe Sepsis

The Sepsis Institute, an online learning platform created by Sepsis Alliance, and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) teamed up to launch Sepsis: Pediatric First Response, a training module to help teach prehospital and emergency medical clinicians how to identify, assess, and begin treatment for pediatric patients with sepsis. The training module, presented by Duckworth, features two case studies and expert commentary by Charles Macias, MD, MPH, Chief Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Vice Chair of Quality & Safety/Chief Quality Officer, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

The module also includes introductory remarks from the late Edward J. Gabriel, MPA, EMT-P, CEM, CBCP, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Incident Command and Control, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This training module is offered for continuing education credits for physicians and nurses.

“The partnership between Sepsis Alliance and CHA is a valuable extension of the work of children’s hospitals to significantly reduce and better manage sepsis in children through our Improving Pediatric Sepsis Outcomes collaborative,” said CHA Chief Operating Officer Amy Knight. “We’re excited to widen our spread of evidence-based practice to any provider caring for children. Early recognition and intervention are critical to better outcomes.”