'Calculator' could detect babies at risk of dangerous bacterial infection
A Victorian-first “sepsis calculator” is set to help doctors more rapidly detect newborns at risk of the dangerous bacterial infection.
Sepsis is a life-threatening illness that can develop in babies exposed to a naturally occurring bacteria carried by their mother.
Because sepsis symptoms are broad - such as lethargy or fever - it's initially difficult to diagnose.
“Sepsis can be very serious. Once it's a bloodstream infection if can affect all the organs in the body of the baby. And unfortunately there is a high mortality rate,” Monash Health Obstetrician, Associate Professor Ryan Hodges, told 9News.
Given the risk associated with sepsis, doctors often err on the side of caution and send newborns suspected of being infected to a special care nursery for treatment including antibiotics.
Now Monash Medical Centre has a new tool - a "sepsis calculator" - to help identify babies at risk.
Key medical data is entered into the computerised calculator which quickly determines if the baby low, medium or high risk of the bacterial infection.
The technology enhances diagnosis - meaning only those babies at high risk will be sent away from their mothers for treatment.
“It also means that babies undergo fewer painful procedures including blood tests,” Dr Alice Stewart from Monash Health said.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the calculator will help keep mums and babies together on the maternity ward for bonding during those precious first few days.
“The new technology here at Monash Health is expected to enable about 250 mums and bubs to stay together,” Ms Mikakos said.