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NICE publishes new quality standard for bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia in children and young people

NICE has today (29 June) published a new quality standard for bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia in children and young people.

Bacterial meningitis occurs when bacteria found normally in the upper respiratory tract infect the lining of the brain (meninges) and the spinal cord. Invasive meningococcal disease is the term used to describe two major illnesses - meningococcal meningitis (one form of bacterial meningitis) and meningococcal septicaemia (blood poisoning), which is caused when the bacteria multiply rapidly in the bloodstream, leading to damage to blood vessels and, in some cases, multi-organ failure or damage. These illnesses can occur on their own or more commonly both together.

Although there has been a reduction in the incidence of meningococcal disease and bacterial meningitis over the last 20 years, primarily as a result of the introduction of the meningitis C vaccine, meningococcal disease is still the leading infectious cause of death in early childhood making its control and treatment a clinical priority. The majority of meningococcal disease occurs in infants aged under 5 years, with a peak incidence in those aged under 1 year. There is a smaller, secondary peak in incidence in young adults aged between 15 and 19 years. Long-term complications of bacterial meningitis include neurological damage, loss of hearing, blindness, or epilepsy. Children with meningococcal disease, as well as suffering from the complications of bacterial meningitis, may lose areas of skin, fingers/toes or even limbs, or, rarely, develop kidney failure.

The NICE quality standard describes markers of high-quality, cost-effective care that, when delivered collectively, should contribute to improving the effectiveness, safety and experience of care for children and young people aged under 16 years with bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia. An important aspect of the standard is the associated measures that enable trusts to demonstrate to commissioners and patients the achievement of high quality care. The standard will also help trusts to meet the outcome goals set out in the NHS Outcomes Framework, which sets out the aims and objectives towards improving outcomes in the NHS, and what this will mean for patients and healthcare professionals.

Included among 14 quality statements and associated quality measures, the new quality standard states that children and young people with suspected or confirmed bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia have their temperature, respiratory rate, pulse, blood pressure, urine output, oxygen saturation and neurological condition monitored at least hourly until stable. In addition, children and young people with suspected bacterial meningitis have a lumbar puncture and their cerebrospinal fluid microscopy result available within 4 hours of the procedure. It also states that children and young people with suspected or confirmed bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia being transferred within or between hospitals are escorted by a healthcare professional trained in advanced paediatric life support.

Dr Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE said: "Fortunately, bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia are very rare. But because of the speed with which they can strike, often with little warning that anything serious is amiss, and their life-threatening potential, they are perhaps the diseases most feared by parents with young children. Because the symptoms of these diseases are often hard to distinguish from those that are less serious, this new quality standard includes an important statement on giving ‘safety netting' information on bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia to the parents and carers of children and young people presenting with non-specific symptoms and signs. We are confident that the quality standard will help all those involved in delivering services to monitor and improve the care given to children and young people affected by these potentially devastating conditions."

Linda Glennie, Head of Research and Medical Information at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), and member of the topic expert group for the new quality standard said: "Both NICE and MRF share a commitment to driving up the quality of care for children and young people who get bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia. These infections can be rapidly fatal and meningococcal disease is the leading cause of death from infection in early childhood in the UK, so identification and treatment are time critical. The new NICE quality standard will ensure that service providers, commissioners and health professionals have the information they need to deliver the best care for these children, from early symptoms assessment through to specialist treatment and universal follow-up. An integrated approach to the bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia care pathway is crucial in achieving this."

Sue Davie, Chief Executive at Meningitis Trust said: "The prompt diagnosis and treatment of meningitis and meningococcal disease is critical to save lives and much progress has been made with the introduction of the NICE guidelines and now this new quality standard. However, as many as 40% of children who survive the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, meningococcal B, are left with after-effects so we are delighted to see that follow up and the need for appropriate information to be given to families before discharge are included in the quality standard. Too many people are left to suffer alone and at the Meningitis Trust, our goal is to ensure everyone knows where they can turn to get the support they need, when they need it and for as long as it is needed."

Kate Rowland, Chief Executive at Meningitis UK said: "The fourteen points outlined in NICE's new quality standard concisely highlight some of the most important areas of NICE's clinical guidelines for the care of young people with bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia. They will help everyone monitor and improve the care given to children and young people affected by the disease.

"As meningitis can strike with incredible speed and can be difficult to diagnose, with specific symptoms often showing late, we are particularly pleased to see that the standard stresses the importance of prompt treatment, regular monitoring, appropriate care by experienced paediatric professionals and effective aftercare. As the disease can progress rapidly, we also welcome the focus on providing parents and carers with information about meningitis when children with non-specific symptoms are discharged."

Ends

Notes to Editors

About the quality standard

1. The quality standard is available on the NICE website from 09:00hrs on Friday 29 June.

Embargoed copies are available on request; please contact the press office.

2. NICE has produced a support document to help commissioners and others consider the commissioning implications and potential resource impact of this quality standard.

Information for patients using the quality standard is also available on the NICE website.

3. NICE quality standards (QS) are a set of specific, concise statements and measures that act as markers of high-quality, clinical and cost-effective patient care. They apply nationally in health and social care, and are developed from the very best available evidence, such as NICE guidance or other NHS Evidence-accredited sources. Quality standards are produced with the NHS and social care, along with their partners, service users and carers. They are a pivotal part of the new NHS Outcomes Frameworkv, an overview of aims and objectives in improving patient outcomes in the NHS.

4. Quality standard topics are referred to NICE by ministers on the advice of the National Quality Board, a group of representatives from health and social care, committed to improving quality in the NHS and overseeing the reforms aimed at improving care.

5. There is more information on NICE quality standards on the quality standards web pages.

6. NICE clinical guidelines are recommendations on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS in England and Wales. Clinical guidance is based on the best available evidence. Guidance helps healthcare professionals in their work, but does not replace their knowledge and skills.

Related NICE guidelines

1. The NICE clinical guideline (CG102) on bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia.

2. The NICE clinical guideline (CG47) on feverish illness in children.

About NICE

1. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

2. NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments, medical technologies (including devices and diagnostics) and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS.

3. NICE produces standards for patient care:

  • Quality standards - these reflect the very best in high quality patient care, to help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care deliver excellent services
  • Quality and Outcomes Framework - NICE develops the clinical and health improvement indicators in the QOF, the Department of Health scheme which rewards GPs for how well they care for patients.

4. NICE provides advice and support on putting NICE guidance and standards into practice through its implementation programme, and it collates and accredits high quality health guidance, research and information to help health professionals deliver the best patient care through NHS Evidence.

About Meningitis Research Foundation

1. Meningitis Research Foundation is currently funding 19 research projects into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia. The Foundation has spent over 16.5million on research since its inception in 1989.

2. Meningitis Research Foundation operates a freephone helpline - 080 8800 3344 - providing information on meningitis and septicaemia to the general public and health professionals.

3. Information on meningitis and septicaemia is also available on the Foundation's website at: www.meningitis.org, in 22 languages. An interpretation service in 150 languages is available through the helpline.

4. The Foundation offers support for those affected by meningitis and septicaemia. Trained helpline staff are available 365 days a year. A befriending service links people with experience of meningitis and septicaemia to share their experiences and counsel each other.

About Meningitis Trust

1. The Meningitis Trust started in 1986 and, since then, has supported people as they face life after meningitis. It provides the widest range of free services and community-based support for people affected by meningitis across the UK. It operates a freephone helpline - 0808 80 10 388; provides counselling and creative therapies, offers financial support grants, and has a team based across the UK providing support in the community. It also raises awareness of the disease, its impact and the need for lifelong support after meningitis strikes.

2. Information on meningitis and the support provided by the Meningitis Trust can be found at: www.meningitis-trust.org. Support can be accessed via the helpline (0808 80 10 388), email (support@meningitis-trust.org), Facebook (TheMeningitisTrust) or Twitter (@MeningitisTrust).

About Meningitis UK

1. Meningitis UK works with families across the entire UK who have suffered the devastation of meningitis.

2. The charity's aim is to wipe out all forms of meningitis through the funding of preventative research and education to raise awareness so people can spot the signs and protect their loved ones.

3. For more information on Meningitis UK call 0117 947 6320 or visit www.meningitisUK.org.

This page was last updated: 28 June 2012

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Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.

Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.