For patients in remote communities suffering from the potentially fatal condition of sepsis, early diagnosis by a confident clinician can be key to survival.
Managing patients with sepsis in remote Western Australia is the most recent challenge for Medical Director at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Lorraine Anderson.
Sepsis is a potentially fatal condition in which the body's tissue is damaged in response to an infection.
"We want our clinicians to think about sepsis all the time - even though it's something they won't see all the time," Dr Anderson said.
Dr Anderson is responsible for clinics in remote communities in Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Balgo, Mulan and Billiluna, and says patients with sepsis need immediate treatment to ensure they survive.
On Thursday a new Sepsis Clinical Care Standard will be released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
The standard will mean healthcare providers will improve their early diagnosis of sepsis, leading to better outcomes for those affected.
"We train all our staff (at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services) to ensure that sepsis is at the top of their priority watch list, and they know exactly what to do," Dr Anderson said.
"With sepsis we don't have a minute to waste, particularly in remote communities which might be 1000km away from the nearest major hospital."
For staff in remote clinics, workers who suspect sepsis need to quickly call a doctor and report the suspected sepsis.
"Just saying 'this could be sepsis' will set things in motion for assessment, treatment and possible evacuation," she said.
"Even though sepsis can be hard to recognise with signs that mimic other conditions, we would rather have a Royal Flying Doctor Service on standby and not have to use them; than the alternative of not being able to deal with someone who is deteriorating."
Dr Anderson said her own clinics have a number of strategies to make workers aware of the symptoms of sepsis, and clear protocols to follow.
She said it was critical remote healthcare workers became aware of the signs of sepsis.
Australian Associated Press
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