Sepsis claims lives – be aware of the risks

At Gadsby Wicks, we regularly get enquiries from patients wondering if they could make a claim for medical negligence regarding the treatment they have (or haven’t) received for an infection. Often, the word ‘sepsis’ is mentioned.


What is sepsis?


Sepsis is a serious complication of infection and is a medical emergency. If spotted early and the source of the infection identified, it can be treated. If not, it can progress rapidly to severe sepsis or septic shock (also known as septicaemia), which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and even death. For those who survive, there may be long-term consequences such as amputation of limbs or impaired function of the brain, kidneys or other organs.


Globally, sepsis affects 27-30 million people worldwide, leading to between 6 and 9 million deaths each year. An estimated 44,000 lives are claimed yearly by sepsis in the UK alone.*


What causes sepsis?


Sepsis occurs as a result of the body’s immune system over-responding to an infection and attacking the body itself.  Most infectious diseases – regardless of whether they are bacterial, fungal, viral or spread by parasites – can lead to sepsis. Typically, the infection originates in the lungs, brain, urinary tract, skin or organs of the abdomen. Commonly, these infections include:


  • Pneumonia
  • Skin and wound infections
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
  • Meningitis
  • Flu
  • Abdominal infections, such as appendicitis and gall bladder infections


Who can get sepsis?


Anyone can get sepsis but people with a weakened immune system are more at risk, in particular:


  • The elderly
  • Babies
  • Children under 5
  • People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes


“Patients in hospital may often have a weakened immune system, especially those who have experienced surgery,” says specialist medical negligence solicitor Tony Mitty. “This means they can be particularly susceptible to infections. If they do, it is crucial that the patient is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, in order to prevent the development of sepsis.”  


What can prevent sepsis?


Vaccination against infections such as flu and pneumonia are advised for people in vulnerable groups, in order to prevent the infection occurring in the first place. Good hygiene practices – including the cleansing and care of skin wounds – are also key, along with prompt treatment and effective monitoring of any infection.


If you or a loved one have experienced complications due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of sepsis or have suffered an infection after surgery, please call 0800 321 3112 to discuss whether you could be able to make a medical negligence claim. Or, click here to make an enquiry


* Source: The Sepsis Trust


See a selection of our cases here 


For more information on Sepsis, please see The Sepsis Trust


World Sepsis Day


World Sepsis Day, is an annual event organised by the World Sepsis Alliance, a not-for-profit charity working to raise awareness about sepsis and alert people and their caregivers to the signs that an infection is becoming more serious. In 2018, it took place on 13thSeptember.


For more information on World Sepsis Day, please see The World Sepsis Alliance


Posted 25th September 2018 | Posted in Delayed treatment,General surgery,Health,Infection,Injury in surgery,Misdiagnosis claims,News