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Sepsis: Life Threatening and Hard to Spot

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Sepsis is perhaps better known as blood poisoning or Septicaemia. It can develop when the body reacts to the threat of an infection.

The immune system will try and fight off the infection, however if the body overreacts and produces too many antibodies, it can start to damage heathy tissue and organs. Although when detected early it is treatable, sepsis kills 52,000 people in the UK each year.

Certain people are more at risk of sepsis, including babies and young children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system due to ongoing illness. However, sepsis can occur in individuals of any age as a result of what could be considered a simple infection such as a UTI. While bacterial infections are the most common cause of sepsis, viral infections can also be found to be responsible.

As sepsis can occur as a result of a wide range of infections, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms. In adults, these are;

  • Difficulty breathing or breathing very fast
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Being confused or disoriented
  • No, or very little, urination
  • Shakes and shivering
  • Extreme tiredness and feeling generally very unwell
  • A blotchy rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it

In infants and children, symptoms can be different, including;

  • A weak high pitched dry
  • Reduction in wet nappies
  • Being sleepy or difficult to wake
  • A very high, or very low temperature

If you suspect that you, or someone close to you, may have sepsis they should seek medical attention by calling 999 or attending A&E immediately. Sepsis can be diagnosed through a blood test and if this is positive, immediate antibiotic treatment will be given. Providing that it is diagnosed and treated early, many people recover and go on to live heathy lives after suffering the infection.

Unfortunately, it is when sepsis remains untreated that it becomes life threatening. This is because it can turn into septic shock. This is when the infection is severe enough to damage your vital organs, which in turn causes a significant drop in blood pressure. Over time, this can cause heart failure, stroke and sometimes death.

Septic shock is a more advanced and more serious development of sepsis and it is reported that more than 50% of cases will end in death. If septic shock is detected, the chances of survival depend on how many organs have been affected and how quickly treatment is commenced after diagnosis.

The most important action, when sepsis is suspected, is to seek medical attention immediately. Sepsis and septic shock can take over the body very quickly, in a matter of days and in some cases, hours. Acting quickly will provide the best chances of heathy recovery and reduction in any long term side effects.

Clinical Negligence and Sepsis

As a sepsis infection can cause lasting and life threatening damage very quickly, it is important that medical professionals diagnose and treat a patient in a prompt manner. If your sepsis infection was misdiagnosed or diagnosed later than it should have been, you may have a claim in clinical negligence.

Our specialist medical negligence team have experience in dealing with cases of sepsis. We can support you through the claim and enable you to achieve the justice that you deserve. There are a number of scenarios in which you may have a claim, including;

  • Missed or late diagnosis
  • Mistreatment
  • A delay in appropriate treatment
  • Mistreatment of complications arising post sepsis recovery

If you have experienced any of the above, you may have a claim in clinical negligence. Please contact our team, who will be able to advise if we can assist you in bringing a claim to get the closure and compensation that you deserve.

Catherine Healy

Posted:

Catherine Healy

Paralegal

Catherine is a member of the Clinical Negligence Team.