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Successful patient safety programmes reduce deaths from acute kidney injury and sepsis

15 June 2018

Two patient safety improvement collaboratives run by UCLPartners have reduced patient deaths caused by acute kidney injury (AKI) and sepsis by 47% and 24% respectively. The collaboratives ran from 2015 to 2017, involving clinical staff from 13 NHS trusts across the UCLPartners geography.

AKI and sepsis are serious conditions that cause around 80,000 deaths per year in England. Using a quality improvement approach, teams came together to test and adopt innovative ideas, improving the care provided to patients. Ideas that were implemented ranged from specialist nursing roles to designated sepsis equipment trolleys.

The programmes resulted in the timelier recognition and follow up of patients diagnosed with these conditions. The significant reduction in deaths was based on an analysis of 950 cases of AKI and almost 1,200 cases of sepsis. The programmes also delivered:

  • Reduction in admissions to intensive care for sepsis patients
  • Reduction in time spent in hospital for sepsis patients
  • Improved rates of kidney function recovery for AKI patients.

Dr Chris Laing, Consultant Nephrologist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and UCLH NHS Foundation Trust, who played a key role in the programme, said: “This is a fantastic result for both patients and staff. The fall in deaths related to this work really demonstrates the power of teams, working collectively across different organisations, to improve care for patients. The collaborative approach enables healthcare staff to learn from and motivate each other when addressing these serious and common safety issues.”

Dr Charlie Davie, Managing Director of UCLPartners said: “The outcomes achieved by these programmes are hugely impressive, reducing the harm caused by these serious conditions and improving the care received by patients. It is a testament to the dedication of staff working across our NHS partner organisations who went above and beyond what is expected of them to deliver these improvements”.

UCLPartners continues to build on this work. On 5 July 2018, the Deteriorating Patient Network will launch with an event to support trusts in their efforts to improve the identification of, and response to, deteriorating patients. The Network will focus in particular on supporting use of the national early warning score (NEWS2) and tools to improve communication between healthcare professionals.

Read the full report and see the infographic.

Read the researcher-in-residence evaluation of the programme in BMJ Open.

See our poster which has won the deteriorating patient category at this year’s Patient Safety Congress.

For further information, contact John Illingworth, Head of Patient Safety, at: or on 020 3108 2330.