Date: 3 February 2017
Sepsis is once again at the forefront of the headlines as a campaign is launched to make more people aware of the symptoms of this potentially fatal condition and to save lives.
Sepsis is a rare, but potentially fatal, complication of infection. The body’s immune system goes into overdrive as it fights the infection which can cause damage to internal organs.
Sepsis is responsible for around 37,000 deaths in the UK every year with around 120,000 cases in total. Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director to the NHS, has previously been critical of the way that NHS Trusts deal with cases of sepsis and noted that improvements need to be made to save lives.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who has had a minor injury or infection
can develop sepsis but some people are more at risk than
others, as follows:
• Those with a weakened immune system, for example as a result of illness or drug use
• The very old or people who are frail
• The very young
• Those taking long term steroids
• Women who are pregnant, have given birth or had termination of pregnancy or miscarriage within the previous 6 weeks
• Those who have wounds, for example cuts, burns, blisters or skin infections.
• Those who have had surgery or other invasive procedure within the previous 6 weeks
Sepsis is treatable with antibiotics if identified early enough. Sadly, too many cases are missed.
The current campaign
The current campaign, ‘They may have sepsis’ launched by Public Health England and the UK Sepsis Trust recently is aimed at recognising and treating symptoms of sepsis in children up to 5 years of age. The campaign aims to highlight to parents and care givers when urgent advice should be sought in children under the age of 5.
What symptoms should I look out for?
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence
sets out guidance in relation to signs and symptoms of
sepsis (NG51). The guidance recommends that you should
think, ‘could this be sepsis?’ if a person presents with
the signs or symptoms. People who present with sepsis
may have non-specific symptoms, such as feeling
generally unwell and may not always have a high
In children under 5, parents or care givers should seek urgent medical treatment if the child presents with any of the following symptoms:
• Looks mottled, pale or a blue colour
• Feels very cold to touch
• Is lethargic and drowsy
• Is breathing very fast
• Has a rash which does not fade when you press onto it
• Has a fit
Additional symptoms which warrant urgent advice
from a medical professional include the following:
• If the child has not passed urine for 12 hours
• Struggling to drink
• Green, bloody or black vomit
• A temperature of over 38C in babies under 3 months, 39C in babies from 3 months to 6 months
• The child is struggling to breathe or is making a grunting sound
In older children and adults, early signs of
sepsis may include:
• A high temperature
• Rapid breathing
• A fast heartbeat
A failure to recognise sepsis can lead to devastating consequences. Sarah and her team are specialists in considering cases where there may have been delays in recognising and treating sepsis and have a great deal of experience in acting for families who have lost loved ones as a result of the failure to recognise this condition.
If you require any advice in relation to a
potential case, please do not hesitate to contact us on
01253 356051 for a free no obligation chat about your