Posted by: ayrshirehealth | February 17, 2016

Surviving sepsis by @Stacey_McWee

How being a sepsis survivor impacts on ‘how’ I go about my role as a student nurse.

As a student nurse I really enjoy learning the theory behind the practise as it helps me understand why something is done a particular way. UWS logoIt also gives me information to draw on to enable me to make informed decisions on placement, with the help of my mentor and or other nurses in the clinical area.

In addition to the modules that I am learning at University, I have one particular personal experience that I often reflect on; surviving sepsis.

You may or may not be aware that there are 150, 000 cases of sepsis every year in the UK and 44,000 of those cases resulting in in death (UK Sepsis Trust, 2015) so I’m definitely feeling very lucky to be alive. Surviving sepsis has not only made me a stronger person but it has impacted on how I go about my role as a student nurse, which is what this blog will be about.

Prioritising and Listening to People.

The Code - pillarsThe Nursing and Midwifery Council [NMC] (2015) states the importance of prioritising people and emphasises the importance of listening and responding to people’s concerns and preferences with compassion.

When I reflect on my experience in hospital as a patient I remember how scared I felt. I remember discussing with one nurses in particular my worries and concerns and I remember telling her how scared I was.

Holding handsShe spent a lot of time by my bedside just listening to my concerns and tried to get me to focus on something positive to help spur on my recovery. She took the time to see me more as a person with a life and a story and less as a bed number. By reflecting on my own experience it definitely helps me prioritise people and truly understand the significance of listening.

On my first placement I tried to ensure that I took the time to listen to my patients and responding to their needs and preferences. As a result I found that I received some great feedback from patients on how relaxed and at ease I made them feel which was very rewarding. I also learnt a lot about my patients and found that they shared many stories with me, something that I found incredibly humbling.

Effective Communication.

When I think back to my time in hospital as a patient one of the things that sticks in my mind is being told by a doctor that sepsis was the reason I had been in intensive care. Communication I hadn’t even heard of sepsis so I wasn’t really sure what it was. I was left feeling very anxious and with lots of questions about sepsis.sepsis

What is sepsis?

How did I get it?

What happens now?

All I could really remember was counting down from 10 in theatre, but this was to have my appendix removed so I found it difficult to link an appendectomy and sepsis.

Luckily later that day a nurse was able explain everything in simpler terms and answer my questions. This meant I had a better understanding of what had happened and was more informed on sepsis.

Medical terminology

In a health care environment it can be easy to forget that not everyone understands medical terminology. The NMC (2015) states the importance of communicating effectively and clearly, using language that everyone can understand. The Code 2015As a result of my own experience I tried to reflect back to how I felt in hospital and tried to explain things in simpler terms to patients and answer any questions that they had when I was on placement.

If I didn’t know the answer myself I made it my mission to find out for the patient.

Despite it only being my first placement I was determined that I would do my best not to use unfamiliar terms and tried to familiarise myself with the different procedures that happened there by taking home the information leaflets and reading up on the different procedures. I found this really beneficial as not only was I learning about the procedures but I was able to explain some things to my patients in a way that they would hopefully be able to understand and provide answers to their questions which seemed to help ease any anxiety.

Effective listening

Additionally, effective communication also extends to colleagues, as well as patients. I can recall during my time in hospital that the nurses’ on the ward worked very well alongside each other and seemed to ensure that information about my care was handed over to those on duty next. ListeningThere were a couple of instances of miss communication as well so the whole experience made me aware of the importance of handing over patient care on my placement and ensuring  that I am fully informed about my patient. It has also taught me to question anything that I think may be incorrect but so far I have not needed to do this.

Overall, I’d say that surviving sepsis has taught me the importance of listening and effective communication, not only with the patent but with colleagues as well.

Furthermore, my experience ensures that I see the whole person rather than just a bed number. It may sound simple but these small things can make all the difference to patients when providing quality care. Reflection on my own experience allows me to ensure that I treat all my patients with compassion, respect and dignity.

This week’s blog was by @stacey_mcwee (Stacey McWee), student nurse at University of the West of Scotland, Ayr Campus.


Nursing and Midwifery Council [NMC] (2015) The Code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02 February 2016]

UK Sepsis Trust (2015) The UK Sepsis Trust [Online] Available: [Accessed: 28 January 2016]


  1. Great post Stacey, the thing that comes across is that not only did you survive a frightening and life threatening illness but you’ve used the experience reflectively so that you are able to empathise with people’s fears and intentionally use empathic listening to support their wellbeing and recovery. Sometimes we hear that practitioners feel they don’t have the time to listen or are concerned that active listenening may ‘open a can of worms’ but in fact compassionate listening will actually accelerate the recovery journey, not slow it down. Thank you.

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to read and respond to my post. To me listening is one of the most important things to do as a nurse, you can learn so much about your patients this way. As I mentioned I find it really humbling what patients will share with you and feel that nursing is a truly special job. It’s really helpful that I can use my own experiences to improve my patients experience (one of the reasons I went into nurisng!)

      • Dear Stace your e-mail is all very admirable,all I can say to you is that you will need to be strong to be able to follow your’ views and when see things that you know aren’t right that you speak up and make sure that you report it.

  2. I found your blog on sepsis helpful my youngest daughter kellie marie is just getting over having sepsis we had never heard of it it was last year February /march started been ill ie flu like symptoms bouts o sickness and diarrhea pain in her limbs no urine output was taken into Salford royal slowly getting no better they put heron a drip of antibiotics and steroids for a while not a week i remember going to see her last year at easter time she looked shocking i asked her when the doctors were coming to see her only duty doctors were on as it was a bank holiday so i thought she was ok that was easter Sunday her own specialist came after the bank holiday by Tuesday /Wednesday nothing was working so her vital organs were shutting down i was so scared as the only person i needed was my mother she had passed away in January the 1st so i was reeling over things and to make matters worse i am 80 miles away every day i called her to be told thhis that was going wrong she was having a transfusion every night pain relief and mountains of drugs her weight plummeted she came home after 12 weeks in hospital but she was filling up with fluid shed ballooned up she looked 9 months pregnant i went away reluctant i was only away a few days to be told by a call from her she was going back into hospital well i started panicking as i was so many miles away in eygpt i was so scared she called us later to say they had put a drain in to drain the fluid off they drained 20 litres off her and they let her home later that night i came home and went to see her straight away still she looked ballooned i was only back 2 weeks and again they put a drain in her they drained yet another 14 liters off her she came home in june very sickly its been a long long slowly process we had a bit of good news for her last October she went to see the specialists for a check up her kidneys her liver has more or less have corrected themselves but they want to keep a close eye on her the most damage that has been done is her heart she has been left with problems with when she ballooned it put pressure onher heart also they found her heart was enlarged so she has to have regular heart scans also the ventrcals to the heart have stretched so that has put all this pressure as a family i lay many of nights how i came close to loosing my daughter due to sepsis i follow all campaigns on sepsis trust and am in regular contact with dr ron Daniels bem the main man for the sepsis trust at Birmingham hospital i try to donate as much as i can to help this horrible illness thank you mrs kay davies

    • Thank you very much for talking the time to read and reply to my post. I’m so sorry to hear that you and your daughter has such a horrific experience of sepsis. I spent time in intensive care myself and my parents and family were told they weren’t sure if I was going to make it and it was touch and go. I feel that sepsis is not as widely known as it should be and like you always try to get involved and shout about it from the roof tops. Surviving sepsis was one of the main reasons I decided I wanted to study nursing and hope can use the experience to help make positive changes throughout my training and career as a nurse.

  3. Stacey, a very important message for all nurses- that we listen, and like the nurse who stayed beside your bedside, we respond to our patients’ needs. A lovely article- thank you very much

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to read and respond to my post! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Surviving sepsis was one of the reasons I decided to go into nursing as I felt I could give something back. As you say it is so important to listen, people tell you a lot when they are at their most vulnerable and it is very humbling that they trust you with that information. 😊

    • my wife was in hospital to be examined for cardiac problem,she also had an ulcerated hole in her foot for which she had been having treatment for 3 months at home.
      When in the hospital I visited my wife on the ward,my wife was asleep,and I noticed that her dressing on her foot had slipped meaning that her wound was uncovered, I reported this to the nurse at the desk,and her reply was that she would be looked at after the visitors had left.
      Seven days later on the day that my wife was to be discharged they found that my wife had sepsis.

      • Thank you for taking the time to read my post and share your own story about your wife.

      • I forgot to mention that my wife died in hospital.

  4. What a great post Stacey demonstrating your commitment to your chosen profession. You have raised some very important messages here. Thank you for sharing your reflections on what must have been a very frightening time and relating this experience to your role as a student nurse. We are proud to have you as a UWS student.

    • Thank you so much!

  5. […] […]

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience Stacey 🙂 reflecting on this must have brought back a power of emotions for you.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post. It was a great opportunity to reflect on my experience, albeit it emotional.

  7. Very good post Stacey, I enjoyed reading it and can see how dedicated you are. You stated not many people know about sepsis, I myself had never heard of it until now, but apart from knowing it’s a life threatening disease I still don’t know what it actually is.

    • Hi Margaret,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my post. To give you a bit more information on sepsis I’ve copied some information from the UK Sepsis Trust’s website (see below). This gives a good account of what it is and you can find out a lot more by heading over to their website. (www.sepsis

      “Sepsis is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria, getting into your body. The infection may have started anywhere in a sufferer’s body, and may be only in one part of the body or it may be widespread. Sepsis can occur following chest or water infections, problems in the abdomen like burst ulcers, or simple skin injuries like cuts and bites.” (UK Sepsis Trust, 2015)

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