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By Spencers Solicitors

  Sarah Wright    
  December 7, 2018

SEPSIS - The common but little known killer

SEPSIS - The common but little known killer

Sepsis deaths recorded in England’s hospitals have risen by more than a third in 2 years, according to data collected by a leading safety expert. Sepsis is a stark term that the general public may be familiar with, but it is often not fully understood.

So what is Sepsis?

Sepsis, also referred to a blood poisoning, is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection or injury. Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to infection. The infection can come from anywhere – even a contaminated cut or insect bite. It is vital that it is identified and treated in its early stages to avoid fatal consequences.

A breakdown of the more common symptoms has been set out as SEPSIS similar to the FAST campaign to identify Strokes and sets out the following warning signs of Sepsis:-

  • Slurred Speech
  • Extreme muscle pain
  • Passing no urine
  • Severe Breathlessness
  • I feel I might die
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

Andrea Ribchester-Hodgson blogged about Sepsis last year and the updated statistics have just been published.

In the year ending April 2017, there were 15,722 deaths in hospital or within 30 days of discharge, where Sepsis was the leading cause.

Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust and an intensive care consultant, said Sepsis was one of the most common causes of death in the UK, responsible for killing up to 44,000 people a year - in hospital and in the community. 44,000 deaths is more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined and yet the symptoms of Sepsis are still not commonly known.

More worrying than an apparent lack of knowledge around Sepsis within the general public, is undoubtedly the frequent failure of both GPs and Hospital staff to identify and adequately treat the symptoms until it is too late despite a number of national and international campaigns dating back almost 2 decades.

"Hospital Sepsis deaths jump by a third"

The BBC has just published an interesting article on Sepsis in which Dr Daniels said: "It's very common that if someone dies of Sepsis that it's coded or reported as simply being the underlying infection.

"So they might die of Sepsis in an intensive care unit with multiple organ failure - but they're recorded as a death from pneumonia. We need to fix that problem before we can truly understand the scale of Sepsis.

"The best way for us to do that is to develop a prospective data system like a registry that exists for other conditions, so that we can really get a national picture of what's going on."

He added: "The treatment for Sepsis, if it's caught early enough, involves very basic interventions - looking for the source of the infection, giving antibiotics.

"For every hour we delay in giving antibiotics, the patient's risk of dying increases by a few per cent, so it's essential that we spot it early and deliver the basics of care quickly."

Despite a number of campaigns and the introduction of guidelines, the national press continues to report on tragedies where families have been deprived of a parent or child due to the failure to diagnose Sepsis and commence the most basic of antibiotic treatment or intravenous fluid resuscitation on an urgent basis.

In cases of Sepsis any delay can mean the difference between life and death; with mortality increasing by 7.6% for each hour of delay in administering appropriate antibiotics (Kumar A et al CCM 2006).

We're here to help

The team, here at Spencers, have experience of dealing with the effects of such incidents and have represented patients and their families in complaints involving the NHS at what is a very traumatic time.

We are committed to assisting clients in what is often the most difficult and stressful time of their lives with the aim of, as far as possible, “putting things right”.

We provide free confidential initial advice to anyone with a concern about the treatment provided to them or a member of their family, irrespective of whether or not a claim is ultimately made.

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