An innovative new tool for quickly diagnosing often deadly auto-immune infections will save lives, the Health Secretary said.
At least a third of those with sepsis die at present.
Every hour that patients are not diagnosed increases the chance of death by 8%, a developer of the test said.
Randox medical diagnostics company is almost ready to release a new bedside test aimed at slashing the 24 hours usually taken to identify the correct antibiotic.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Instead of having to give people huge amounts of antibiotics across the board, which causes other problems, both medical and problems with resistance and super bugs, instead we will be able to work out exactly what the right treatment is for that individual person and do it fast enough to get the treatment in to save lives.”
He toured Randox’s premises in Antrim in Northern Ireland on Thursday.
He added: “I can see a very clear application across the health service for how we can use the technology that is being developed here in Northern Ireland, both across the UK and indeed around the world.”
Sepsis can develop from infections caused by a simple cut or the use of invasive medical devices like catheters.
The body’s white blood cells fight the infection but the reaction can become overblown and damage healthy tissue and organs.
Many who survive face amputations because of damage to the limbs, Randox’s molecular diagnostics manager Dr Martin Crockard said.
He said the traditional method of sending blood samples to laboratories for testing was taking too long.
Randox’s new technology would allow clinicians in hospital emergency departments to check multiple samples at the press of a few buttons on a smart pad.
Currently doctors are initially prescribing broad spectrum antibiotics which are not specific enough for individual patients, encouraging resistant strains.
Mr Crockard said it was important to quickly begin treatment with the most appropriate antibiotic.
He said: “We can deal with the exact organism causing the problem in less than four hours, allowing you to tailor the treatment for that individual patient very quickly.”
Around 52,000 people die every year in the UK.
The UK Sepsis Trust’s chief executive Ron Daniels said: “Randox is leading the way around molecular technologies.
“No other system brings this so close to the clinician on the shop floor.”