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Sepsis is responsible for over 37,000 deaths a year in the UK, with long term morbidity consequences for survivors. More than 40% of cases develop within the community, making the ambulance service vitally important. This project sought to ascertain the current level of sepsis knowledge in UK ambulance services to better understand potential knowledge gaps.


This observational study used an online questionnaire to describe the level of knowledge of sepsis and how it is recognised and managed in the pre-hospital setting. A convenience sample of clinicians at one ambulance service was invited to complete a questionnaire which consisted of ten questions and was hosted on the web-based tool SurveyMonkey®. One hundred and seventy-one complete responses were received from ambulance staff (response rate 5.4%) and data were entered into Microsoft Excel and analysed using descriptive statistics.


The questionnaire identified 59% of respondents (n=100) had heard of the terms sepsis and systemic inflammatory response syndrome, with 23% (n=40) identifying all three stages of sepsis. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents (n=118) identified the correct definition of sepsis, and 23% (n=39) believed this definition was used in the pre-hospital setting.


Four per cent of respondents (n=7) identified all of the common signs and symptoms and 22% (n=37) knew all of the pre-hospital interventions for severe sepsis and septic shock. Finally, 71% (n=121) agreed paramedics could identify patients at high risk of sepsis, with 94% (n=161) agreeing pre-hospital recognition and interventions may improve outcomes for sepsis.


Findings showed poor knowledge of sepsis, its recognition and pre-hospital management which is supported by other literature. As a result, a mandatory training programme has been delivered and a sepsis screening tool, including prompts for appropriate management, has been produced. A continuous clinical audit will also be introduced to understand how this knowledge is applied in practice.

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