Welsh Research and Education Network
Hot topics in research and medical education, in Wales and beyond
Dr Annabel Greenwood
Earlier this month I attended the Wales Neonatal Network Audit & QI Day and a hot topic for discussion was sepsis and the use of antibiotics. The sepsis risk calculator (SRC) is a fairly new concept due for implementation in neonatal units across Wales early next year…but what does it involve?!
What is the sepsis risk calculator?
The SRC was established by the Kaiser Permanente Health Group in Northern California, and has reduced antibiotic use in babies by almost 50%.
It is a tool for calculating the risk of early-onset neonatal sepsis (EONS) in babies ³ 34/40 gestation. It uses maternal risk factors together with the clinical presentation of the baby to calculate a probability of EONS per 1000 babies.
Why is it important?
The incidence of EONS is 0.5-0.9/1000 live births in babies ³34/40 gestation, with a 3.5% incidence of mortality. Current guidelines for EONS are not sensitive or specific e.g. the definition of chorioamnionitis can vary, diagnostic tests have poor predictive value for EONS, and 40-50% of cases are not captured by current screening tools. Furthermore, current guidelines do not take into account the clinical examination of the baby.
We have a duty as clinicians to improve antibiotic stewardship, avoid unnecessary investigations, and shorten duration of stay in hospital.
The calculator in more detail…
An initial probability of EONS is calculated based on the population incidence together with risk factors for sepsis including; gestational age, highest maternal antepartum temperature, GBS carriage status, duration of rupture of membranes, and the nature and timing of intrapartum antibiotic administration. The baseline risk is then modified based on the infant’s clinical examination
Implementation of the Sepsis Risk Calculator…
The calculator is not currently in use in neonatal units across Wales. However, following extensive discussion at the Wales Neonatal Network Audit & QI day, the provisional aim is for implementation early next year.
It has already been implemented in some neonatal units across England (Plymouth, Exeter, Bath, Southampton, Oxford), with a reported 40-70% reduction in antibiotic use (depending on the centre
So…what do you think?
On reflection, after listening to the discussions at the Wales Neonatal Network Audit & QI day and exploring the topic further, I feel the implementation of a sepsis risk calculator on the neonatal and postnatal units is a positive move towards improving our antibiotic stewardship, protecting babies against unnecessary investigations, whilst at the same time easing the workload of the medical team by reducing unnecessary procedures. However, let’s not forget that neither the SRC or current guidelines will pick up unwell babies at birth…There is of course no substitute for clinical acumen!
Dr Annabel Greenwood