HMC and Sidra Medicine Highlight Importance of Pediatric
Sepsis Awareness among Healthcare Professionals and the General Public
Doha, 17 September, 2019: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 80 percent of sepsis deaths are preventable. In recognition of World Sepsis Day, held annually on 13 September, staff from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Sidra Medicine have joined forces to raise awareness of the life-threating condition and to empower both medical professionals and members of the general public, specifically parents of young children, to recognize the signs of sepsis.
Dr. Ibrahim Fawzy Hassan, Director of the Medical Critical Care Division and Chair of the Sepsis Steering Committee at HMC says some people have a higher risk of developing sepsis than others.
“Sepsis happens when the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the body's organs and tissues. The condition can happen as a result of an infection and while anyone can develop sepsis, those with a compromised immune system, such as small children, the elderly, patients with chronic diseases and people who are on immunosuppressing medication, are more prone to develop sepsis,” said Dr. Hassan.
Last week Sidra Medicine hosted the Qatar 6th National Sepsis Symposium, in collaboration with HMC. The multidisciplinary educational event was developed for healthcare providers involved in the care of pediatric patients and highlighted recent developments in sepsis care.
Dr. Mohammad Janahi, Senior Attending and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Sidra Medicine said sepsis can be difficult to diagnose in children as the signs can be subtle. He said it’s important to ensure that both medical professionals and parents have the information they need to recognize sepsis and that parents are encouraged to speak up if they are concerned.
“While anyone can develop sepsis, it’s more dangerous in children, particularly premature babies and infants as they can be more susceptible to developing sepsis due to their immune system not being fully developed. What makes sepsis so dangerous is the simple fact that there is a lack of knowledge and awareness about the condition. We urge parents who have a child that is sick and not getting better to contact their doctor immediately so their child can be assessed. Individual symptoms don’t always mean the child has sepsis, but it is important for parents to trust their instincts if they are concerned,” said Dr. Janahi.
The signs and symptoms of sepsis can include fever or low temperature, fast heart rate, fast breathing, feeling cold (cold hands and feet), clammy and pale skin, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, shortness of breath, extreme pain or discomfort, and nausea and vomiting.
Dr. Ahmed Labib, Senior Consultant at the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Hamad General Hospital and the National Sepsis Program Lead says sepsis awareness remains relatively low among the general public. He says that a lack of knowledge and awareness among patients, family members, and healthcare staff makes sepsis the number one cause of preventable deaths worldwide.
“For the past five years, we have been working on developing a standardized care pathway for patients with suspected sepsis. The program has been adopted by the Ministry of Public Health as the national program for sepsis treatment and is being rolled out across Qatar’s public sector healthcare providers,” said Dr. Labib.
“Working collaboratively with internal and external partners, such as Hamad Healthcare Quality Institute, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Sidra Medicine, and Primary Health Care Corporation has been key to developing a successful, all-inclusive national program. Each partner brings their own unique experiences and expert knowledge to the table, and by working collaboratively we were able to achieve greater adoption of the clinical protocols needed to manage sepsis,” added Dr. Labib.
Dr. Rasha Ashour, Senior Attending Physician and Sepsis Lead at Sidra Medicine and national pediatric sepsis lead said healthcare professionals play an important role in helping parents understand sepsis prevention, which includes educating parents about the importance of ensuring their child receives appropriate treatment for chronic health conditions and following recommended vaccination schedules.
“Although there is no magic drug against sepsis specifically, it is essential to start giving effective antibiotic medications designed to work against harmful bacteria to help minimize the risks of contracting sepsis,” said Dr. Ashour.
“Parents can help reduce the risk of their child contracting an infection by getting them vaccinated as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Public Health. They are also encouraged to adopt general good hygiene practices and monitor their children for any signs of illness or infection and to seek medical attention if they are unsure about the potential dangers of an infection,” added Dr. Ashour.
World Sepsis Day was established in 2012 as an initiative of the Global Health Alliance. The global annual campaign, which is supported by Qatar’s public healthcare sector, advocates prevention education alongside promoting early detection and comprehensive evidence-based treatment measures.