NHS England has released their report into the tragic death of 12 month old William Mead from Sepsis in 2014. His story has similarities to those of Sam Morrish in 2010 and Chloe Welch in 2012 who sadly died following the symptoms of Sepsis being missed. The report has illustrated the need for better recognition of Sepsis in order to save lives.
Elena Cresci reported in The Guardian online only last week the plight of a mother whose daughter’s diagnosis of Sepsis was almost missed by the medics treating her.
Two year old Rosie caught chickenpox from her sister but instead of the illness taking its normal course, gradually became more and more unwell. She was lethargic, in a great deal of pain and had a high fever. Her mum took her to see 3 different medical practitioners only to be told she was fine, before finally needing to be taken to Luton & Dunstable Hospital by ambulance. At the hospital, a quick thinking A&E nurse recognised the symptoms and suggested that they may be caused by Sepsis.
As soon as the suspicion of Sepsis was made, the doctors began to following the “Sepsis Six Pathway” which is a treatment tool designed to guide clinicians with a standard approach. It involves 6 elements, 3 treatments and 3 tests which should be initiated by the medical team with an hour of diagnosis.
The six elements are as follows:
- giving antibiotics
- giving fluids intravenously
- giving oxygen if levels are low
- taking blood cultures to identify the type of bacteria causing sepsis
- taking a blood sample to assess the severity of sepsis
- monitoring urine output to assess severity and kidney function
It transpired that Rosie had caught a Strep A infection as a complication of the chickenpox and by the time she was seen by the A&E nurse, she was in septic shock and close to death. Where the infection follows a common childhood illness, it can be even more difficult to recognise.
Fortunately in this case, by recognising the symptoms of Sepsis and acting quickly the medical staff saved Rosie’s life. Her mum has since worked tirelessly with the NHS and with UK Sepsis Trust to help raise awareness of the symptoms in an effort to avoid preventable deaths from the illness.
If you or anyone you know has been affected the issues raised in this article please contact our Clinical Negligence Team on 0800 316 8892 who will be able to advise you further.