There is a “significant risk” that pharmacy teams will fail to spot sepsis in patients presenting under the new community pharmacist consultation scheme (CPCS) due to begin at the end of October 2019, a pharmacy negotiator has said.
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said pharmacists should ensure that they undertake training on how to spot the signs of sepsis and cascade this to their teams to make certain that they are able to refer patients who may be at risk.
Patients will be referred to pharmacists via NHS 111 for some minor illnesses and conditions when the CPCS goes live on 29 October 2019.
Speaking at The Pharmacy Show, held in Birmingham on 5–6 October 2019, Buxton advised pharmacists to note new requirements in the pharmacy quality scheme (PQS) — a rebranded version of the quality payments scheme (QPS) which has also been introduced as part of the CPCS. The PQS is voluntary, but if pharmacies meet certain quality criteria, they must complete online training and carry out a risk review to ensure they are minimising any risk of missing cases of suspected sepsis.
“There is a new requirement around [Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE)] sepsis training and cascading the learning from that to your frontline staff, so they know what the signs and symptoms of sepsis are and they know to refer immediately to a pharmacist,” Buxton said.
“The risk of us having people referred to us with signs of sepsis and us not spotting it in pharmacy is a significant risk that we don’t want to happen. So focus on that. Another requirement is making a new entry in your risk review relating to spotting the signs of sepsis.”
The NHS says data on the incidence and prevalence of sepsis is difficult to record, but it adds that, in 2017/2018, hospital admission figures show that there were 186,000 hospital admissions for patients with a primary diagnosis of sepsis, and Office for National Statistics data show that, in 2015, 23,135 people died from sepsis.
Symptoms of sepsis include mottled or ashen skin; cyanosis of the skin, lips or tongue; or a non-blanching skin rash.
Under the PQS, pharmacies will also be required to carry out new training from CPPE on ‘look-alike’ and ‘sound-alike’ errors.