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Sepsis – the silent killer – “Could it be Sepsis?”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently issued up to date guidance for doctors and nurses regarding diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.

The statistics for this less well known but potentially killer condition are stark:

  • 150,000 cases annually in UK
  • 44,000 people die annually in UK
  • Mortality is greater than the combined deaths from breast, bowel and prostate cancer
  • Makes up 40% of critical care workload

What is sepsis?

It is an illness that can be triggered by a minor infection and is the response of the body’s immune system to that infection. The body can begin to self-destruct by attacking their own tissues and internal organs.  Early symptoms include extremes of temperature, fast breathing or rapid heart beat with rapid deterioration thereafter. The figures show that it is often fatal with survivors sometimes experiencing limb loss, chronic fatigue and muscle and joint pain

New Campaign

Following the new guidelines, the Department of Head, led by Minister, Jeremy Hunt has indicated this week, that it will support a campaign to heighten awareness among patients and doctors of this life threatening condition and funds have been allocated through the NHS budget for this.

There are various elements to the campaign which will launch in Mid-September. It targets not just doctors and nurses but also the general public via social media.

Speaking in London this week, Ron Daniels, Critical Care Consultant and Chief Executive of UK Sepsis Trust explained that a central part of the campaign was to encourage potential patients to pick up the phone and seek help sooner rather than later as more than half of cases present late.

He said:

What we are going to see is heightened awareness of the word “sepsis”, through the use of social media, direct marketing, posters in GPs surgeries, emergency departments and pharmacists, [as well as] the use of corporate partners to get the message out there.’

Could it be sepsis?

Through raising awareness it is hoped that more people will be empowered to ask the question: Could it be sepsis?

Also supporting the campaign and in London this week was Melissa Mead, mother of William Mead who died as an infant in 2014. See our Blog dated 20 July 2016.

She said:

There’s going to be posters, there is going to be leaflets, there is going to be symptom cards, there is going to be a 90-second video which is going to be blanketed across social media to make sure we engage with the community when they are sitting on their sofas at home.’

Sepsis is now regarded as an acute illness which should be treated with the same degree of urgency as a stroke or heart attack. It is to be hoped that this campaign will be effective in saving even more lives every year and in reducing the side effects for those who survive.

If you or a relative or friend have been affected by the issues in this article with regard to the diagnosis, treatment or management of sepsis, please contact a member of our Medical Negligence Team on 0800 316 8892.