Our immune system serves to protect our bodies from threats, such as rogue cells that could turn cancerous, or infections that could harm our health. But the immune system can also go wrong, and do more harm than good.
This is what happens in sepsis, or “blood poisoning”, where the immune system goes into overdrive while attempting to clear an invader, such as harmful bacteria, and inadvertently attacks person’s tissues and organs. This life-threatening reaction is estimated to affect close to 150,000 people each year in the UK alone.
World Sepsis Day, on September 13th, seeks to raise awareness of this serious condition, which could take as many as 6 million lives across the globe each year.
Imagine this hypothetical scenario: a group of researchers are working on novel ways to detect early warning signs that a patient’s condition is getting worse. They think a wearable device that automatically alerts both patients and healthcare professionals to potential problems would be an innovative solution to enable earlier detection.
So the team members put their heads together and come up with a new wearable sensor that they think would greatly benefit patients and professionals alike. But when they test it with patients for the first time, they don’t get the feedback they’d hoped for. Users find it awkward, difficult to set up, clunky and uncomfortable.
Patient safety has become an important topic at all levels of the health system.
That’s why we launched our MSc in Patient Safety. The course was designed specifically to help policy makers and healthcare professionals deliver safer care and health systems. Since launching our unique Masters programme in 2016, we’ve had many graduates go on to successfully apply their learning in their careers, championing patient safety in their everyday work.
We spoke to three Patient Safety students, Joshua Symons, William Gage and Jeni Mwebaze to find out what made them choose the course, what they learnt and how they hope it will help them in their profession.
By Dr Jia Li, Senior Lecturer and Grace Barker, PhD student, Imperial College London
There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s massive, isn’t it?
By Dr Modou Jobarteh, Research Associate in nutrition and dietetics
The fact that there are still individuals, families and communities still going to bed hungry every night is arguably the biggest failure of our generation.
By Dr Lisa Aufegger, Research Associate
Alongside the inherent challenges of the job itself, working in acute healthcare teams comes with another layer of complexity.
On a regular basis, staff will interact with highly specialised professionals from across different disciplines. This means that team members such as anaesthetists, nurses and surgeons need a high level of shared understanding, not only in relation to their main objective but their roles and responsibilities, too.
Shared leadership (SL) – where leadership working relationships are distributed and team members’ unique roles defined – has been proposed as a way to foster effective team performance in such situations.
By Lily Roberts, NHS Digital Academy Teaching Fellow
“I’m really struggling, is someone there?”
“Hi there, my name is Sophie and I’m here for you tonight. Tell me a bit about what’s on your mind.”
“I can’t cope anymore, I just want to end it all…”
While this exchange is fictional, it is a representation of a very real problem.
By Dr Emma Lawrance, Mental Health Innovations Fellow
These are hyper-connected times. We’re told we can get what we want – from dinner to a date – at the tap of a phone screen. And yet, even with the world seemingly at our fingertips, when we are in an emotional crisis or struggling with our mental health, it can be hard to know where to go. And hard to know what to say, when one of our loved ones is brave enough to express what’s truly on their mind.
By Dr Lindsay H Dewa, Research Associate, NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching
” than to say “My heart is broken
By Joshua Symons, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation’s Big Data Analytical Unit
Patient data is precious. It’s a resource that many researchers and clinicians use to improve healthcare and therefore the lives of patients and health professionals. That’s why we want to make sure it’s used in a way that’s both effective and safe.