Wednesday September 13th 2017 is World Sepsis Day – an initiative by the Global Sepsis Alliance that seeks to reduce deaths from sepsis, a serious condition that affects more than 30 million people a year worldwide. In the UK, sepsis is the leading cause of avoidable death. Around 44,000 people die of it each year and, according to BBC Panorama (aired Monday 11th September), an estimated 14,000 of these are preventable.
Information from NHS hospital trusts show that 37% of patients with sepsis are not getting the necessary antibiotics within the recommended time. One in four trusts are not following sepsis guidelines and are failing to give intravenous antibiotics within an hour to fifty percent of their patients showing signs of sepsis.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a potentially fatal complication of an infection. When an infection gets out of control, pathogenic germs and toxins enter the bloodstream. If not treated promptly, this can lead to a deterioration in organ function and, ultimately, to septic shock. This is where several organs shut down and the cardio-circulatory system fails, leading to a sudden drop in blood pressure and death.
Delays in diagnosis or treatment of sepsis can be deadly
Early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Chances of survival are reduced considerably for each hour that someone with sepsis goes untreated.
“Sadly, we are very familiar with cases where sepsis is overlooked by medical professionals, despite the signs being there” says medical negligence solicitor Tami Frankel. “What is equally tragic is when someone has been diagnosed correctly but, because of delays in administering the drugs required, they either lose their life or are left with debilitating consequences – such as failure of an organ or loss of a limb.”
What are the signs of sepsis?
If sepsis is suspected, the NHS advises that emergency medical treatment is sought immediately, especially people with vulnerable immune systems such as babies, young children, the elderly or those who have recently suffered an infection.
In children under 5, symptoms include:
- Mottled, bluish or pale skin
- Abnormally cold to the touch
- Lethargic or difficult to wake
- Rapid breathing
In adults or older children:
- High or low body temperature
- Chills and shivering
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heartbeat
As sepsis progresses, further symptoms can include:
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Confusion or disorientation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Less urine production than normal
If you have concerns about a misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosing or treating sepsis, either for you or for a loved one, please speak to us about whether there may be a claim for medical negligence. Call in confidence on 0800 321 3112 or click here to make an enquiry.
- To see a recent case involving mismanaged treatment of sepsis, please see here
- Please see here for more information about World Sepsis Day