Could basic routine checks help to diagnose sepsis in children?

Sepsis can be a killer disease which often goes unrecognised until it is too late but the early signs can be hard to spot. See our earlier blog for World Sepsis Day 2016.

Children often present to GPs with signs of fever and it can be difficult to identify which children are suffering from serious disease.

Guidelines for basic checks to be carried out have been in place from The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for almost a decade with the original publication in 2007 followed by an update in 2013.

What are the basic checks?

  • Measure and record temperature
  • Heart rate
  • Respiratory rate
  • Capillary refill time

Recent research carried out by Dr Alice Lee, reviewing data from a Stockport GP practice indicated that just 13% of consultations for under 5s included all four checks and one in three children no tests or only one.

Dr Ron Daniels of the UK Sepsis Trust said:

We are aware this is a problem and we are seeing this not only with children but with adults too. Basic observations are not being done routinely and, where observations are being done, they are not being done as a complete set. In the majority of cases, GPs will be able to make the right decision but it’s clear we are still missing some cases.’

Sepsis is beginning to be recognised by the public as an illness that can strike swiftly and with catastrophic effects and presenting as soon as possible to medical professionals is essential to achieve an early diagnosis and prompt treatment. Many more lives could be saved with better awareness but it is essential that medical professionals pick up cases by undertaking basic checks in all cases so sepsis can be identified quickly and potentially life saving treatment can be given.

If you or a member of your family have been affected by the issues in this article then contact one of our Clinical Negligence Team on 0800 316 8892 or complete a contact form.