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Fighting Sepsis – With help!

On Tuesday this week I met the amazing Jayne Carpenter (–12808117). Jayne became ill last year. She had a cough and it was getting worse. She is a highly qualified nurse, so wasn’t too worried about the cough, but thought that it was bad enough to get some antibiotics. Hours later she was in Intensive Care, on a life support machine and most drugs known to man. Jayne had sepsis, a crushing life-threatening infection. Over the next weeks she fought for her life. And eventually got better. But in the fight she lost three of her limbs.

On Tuesday she joined the Welsh Rapid Response to Acute Illness Learning Set (RRAILS) of the 1000Lives program. ( This is a collaboration of health care professionals from all parts of NHS Wales who have set themselves the target to reduce avoidable harm due to catastrophic deterioration in Hospital. Sepsis is a major complications of acute illness and after invasive procedures. Jayne told us how it had affected her: from beach bum to wheelchair … but now firmly on the way back!

Jayne illustrated two things to me:

  1. Story telling is powerful. Connecting with a fellow human being affects us more than dozens of statistics. And Jayne and others like her are crucial collaborators in our fight for safer hospitals (

  2. Jayne also helped me to understand how easy it is even for clued up healthcare professionals at the top of their game to miss deterioration. Once it is labelled it is easy, but before that it is difficult. And our current systems are not reliable enough (yet).

Jayne is a real motivation to me. If you want to hear a bit more and about fellow patients and relatives who are driving the fight for safer patient care, then I would recommend the BBC program with the Derek ‘The Weather’ Brockway (! Food for thought and motivation for all of us to share what we experience so that everybody can learn.

Given the size of problems and the NHS: How do we best link personal testimony and learning in health organisations?

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