Sepsis - The common little known killer

Sepsis is a stark term the general public is familiar with but is often not fully understood, so what is Sepsis?

Laura Reaney

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Sepsis is a term the general public may be familiar with but is often not fully understood.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to infection. It is vital that it is identified and treated in its early stages as it can have fatal consequences.

The UK Sepsis Trust which ran a “Kiss Goodbye to Sepsis” campaign in 2017, reports that every year Sepsis results in 44,000 deaths; more than the deaths due to bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. However, the symptoms of Sepsis are not widely 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 to 2002 and the introduction of guidelines by NICE covering the recognition, diagnosis and early management of sepsis.

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

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

Despite the increase in awareness campaigns and the introduction of the NICE 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 to commence urgent antibiotic treatment or intravenous fluid resuscitation.

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).

The medical negligence team, here at Spencers, have considerable experience of dealing with sepsis compensation claims.

We are committed to assisting clients in what can be one of the most difficult and stressful time of their lives.

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. Call us now on 08000 93 00 94.

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