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Sepsis is a condition in which damage is caused to a person’s tissue and organs as a result of their immune system’s response to an infection. It is also known as septicaemia or ‘blood poisoning’. Eventually, the sepsis will reach an advanced stage, sometimes known as ‘septic shock’, which is a life-threatening condition leading to a relatively high mortality rate.

There are 250,000 yearly cases of sepsis and approximately 46,000 people perish each year from the condition, according to the NHS website. Moreover, the Royal College of Surgeons has reported that around 14,000 of these sepsis-related fatalities could be prevented.

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First Personal Injury may be able to help if you or a family member have suffered from sepsis due to medical negligence.

Call us today for a free, no-obligation discussion with one of our friendly team on 0800 808 9740, or get in touch online via our website.

What causes sepsis?

A variety of viral or fungal infections can lead to sepsis, but it is generally caused by bacterial infections. The types of infections that could cause sepsis are:

  • Meningitis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Post-surgical infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Appendicitis
  • Gallbladder infection
  • Cellulitis

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

The first signs of sepsis appear over a short time period and often include:

  • Chills and shivering
  • A high or low body temperature
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling different from your ‘usual self’
  • Problems or changes to your breathing
  • Fever

Within a few hours these symptoms can develop into a more advanced form of the illness. This severe level of sepsis, sometimes named ‘septic shock’ will lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure and is often characterised by the following symptoms:

  • Breathlessness
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling dizzy and faint
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle pain
  • Reduced urine production
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting

Am I at risk of contracting sepsis?

It is possible for anyone to develop sepsis, but there are some main risk groups which consist of:

  • Diabetic people
  • Elderly people (75 years +)
  • People with a weakened immune system (e.g. as a result of chemotherapy)
  • People with skin abrasions (e.g. cuts, blisters, burns or skin infections)
  • Pregnant women (or those who have recently given birth or had a miscarriage)
  • Those who have recently undergone surgery
  • Young children / babies

How is sepsis diagnosed and treated?

Sepsis-related illnesses are time critical. A misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosis or incorrect treatment could be fatal. If the infection is diagnosed very early and has not yet affected any vital organs it may be possible to treat at home with antibiotics. Individuals who undergo treatment at this early stage generally make a full recovery.

It is common for patients who show early signs of sepsis to be admitted to a hospital for diagnosis and treatment. Within the first hour of diagnosis it is important for a number of steps to be carried out in order to treat a patient. These steps are known as the ‘sepsis six’ and can potentially double the chance of survival following a sepsis diagnosis.

The sepsis six

Following a sepsis diagnosis, a medical professional should:

  1. Provide the patient with oxygen
  2. Give the patient a blood test for infection
  3. Provide antibiotics
  4. Intravenous fluids (IV) should be administered
  5. Measure serum lactate (lactic acid in the blood) and haemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen)
  6. Urine output should be measured on an hourly basis

These actions should be carried out as efficiently as possible. A delay in diagnosing the infection or initiating treatment could prove to be fatal.

Who is responsible?

Unfortunately many cases of sepsis are preventable but medical negligence has led to unnecessary suffering and, in the worst cases, death. This sometimes results from the condition being misdiagnosed, a considerable delay in diagnosis and subsequent treatment. The initial symptoms of sepsis can often be difficult to pinpoint and can be mistaken for flu or meningitis symptoms.

Vital organ failure can occur within just a matter of hours if the condition is not diagnosed and treated efficiently. Those individuals who do survive such circumstances may suffer in a critical condition for a long-term period.

Sometimes the patient may have delayed seeking diagnosis or treatment. But there are numerous scenarios in which medical professionals may have failed to perform their duties to the required standard.

How can we help you claim?

At First Personal Injury our expert team of solicitors will walk you through the entire legal process step-by-step. Our solicitors understand the intricate circumstances that can arise when pursuing a claim – especially whilst coping with the physical and emotional stress of sepsis. However, we are confident that we can help and usually operate on a no win, no fee basis to alleviate our clients of taking any financial risk.

If you would like to discuss a potential claim please call us on 0800 808 9740 or get in touch online via our website.

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