Sepsis is a life-threatening condition triggered by another infection - be it a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection such as pneumonia, urinary infections (UTIs), skin infections including cellulitis or an appendicitis.
When sepsis occurs, the body’s immune system goes into overdrive. The inflammatory response (a response to the underlying infection) spreads through the body in the bloodstream. This is why it is sometimes referred to as “blood poisoning”.
Once the bloodstream is affected, healthy tissue and organs can be damaged. This can lead to organ failure and septic shock, which can prove fatal.
Sepsis is a common illness. It is the primary cause of death from infection around the world. In the UK, it claims around 40,000 lives every year. To put that into perspective, that is more deaths than are attributed to a heart attack or any single form of cancer.
What’s more, deaths from sepsis are often preventable if the right treatment is provided at the right time. Research has shown that every year 12,500 preventable sepsis deaths occur. This means that these patients would have survived, had they received timely treatment.
To try and reduce the number of preventable deaths and ensure patients received care when they need it, NICE Guidelines were introduced in 2016. These recommend that all patients with life-threatening sepsis symptoms should be treated within one hour of presentation.
The Guidelines that NHS staff in any setting, including GPs, paramedics and hospital doctors, should check people for specific signs that will show if their symptoms are life-threatening. Sepsis can usually be diagnosed based on simple observations such as temperature, heart rate and breathing rate, or looking for signs of rashes or skin discolouration.
As a common illness resulting in numerous preventable deaths each year, all competent medical practitioners should be able to recognise sepsis and ensure treatment is provided as a matter of urgency. A failure to recognise, diagnose and treat sepsis in a timely manner may mean there are grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.
There may also be grounds for a compensation claim if the patient has survived, but the hospital's negligence has caused them to suffer injuries that would have been avoided with better care.
If you, or your loved one, has suffered unnecessary injury because of negligent sepsis care, you need to talk to a solicitor about the options available to you. You could be entitled to make a compensation claim.
In the event of a death, many people will not realise that their loved one may have been the victim of medical negligence. Often this is because sepsis is not listed on the death certificate, or it is listed very low down. Alternatively a patient may not be told that errors were made during the course of their care.
For more information about substandard sepsis care, please call the medical negligence team at Wake Smith Solicitors.
We can suggest whether or not you are able to make a claim. We offer a free initial conversation, where you can discuss the matter with a legal expert, see if you have grounds for a claim and determine if would like to proceed.
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