Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Sepsis – The Silent Killer

Just before Christmas NHS England announced that an action plan had been published to help support healthcare professionals recognise and treat sepsis promptly.

Sepsis is a life threatening condition that can emerge rapidly and results from the immune system going into overdrive with a series of reactions, which can lead to shock, organ failure and death and is the body’s response to infection going wrong. It is known as a silent killer as it can be difficult to diagnose.

Figures from the UK Sepsis Trust indicate that of 150,000 cases of sepsis every year, there are 44,000 deaths and that the cost of treating patients with sepsis costs the NHS £2.5 billion every year. Of the deaths from sepsis it is estimated that 10,000 per annum could be avoided.

The NHS England action plan targets the prevention of avoidable cases of sepsis, awareness raising of the condition and improving the care pathway to ensure that patients are appropriately treated.

At risk groups include the elderly, immune suppressed, pregnant women and children.

Action is proposed to improve identification and treatment of sepsis across the whole care pathway and this should be supported by the publication of clinical guidance this year followed by a quality standard in 2017. There is emphasis in trying to ensure that appropriate treatment is initiated at the earliest opportunity.

NHS England has already introduced on a voluntary basis an audit tool for GPs which assists in the assessment of children with fever against NICE guidelines. In addition a patient safety alert has been issued to highlight resources including the ‘Sepsis Six’.

Dr Ron Daniels, Chief Executive of UK Sepsis Trust commented on the action plan:

As Chief Executive of the Sepsis Trust, I welcome this report and the excellent, wide ranging work undertaken by the NHS Cross System Programme Board, building on foundations laid by the Sepsis Trust over the last decade, this report contains the essence of a transformational change in the way our healthcare system manages patients with sepsis. Along with appropriate investment, we now have real opportunity to drive improvements resulting in our saving an extra 10,000 lives every year.’

If you or a relative have been affected by sepsis and wish to seek advice then please contact Marguarita Tyne, Partner in out Clinical Negligence team on 0117 3056055 or e-mail on