World Sepsis Day 2016 – 13 September

Worldwide, this life- threatening illness affects more than 25 million people every year with a third of cases proving fatal. We have talked about the condition in previous blogs:

Sepsis is a condition caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

It can affect anyone but certain groups are more susceptible including patients suffering from Diabetes, cancer, HIV infection or those who are immuno- suppressed. The elderly and the young including babies are also at higher risk.

Preventing infection in the first place is the best way to avoid complications but public awareness of the condition is increasingly important in ensuring that patients present early with symptoms as the sooner treatment commences the greater the chance of a favourable outcome and recovery.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has also published guidance to doctors for diagnosing the condition and best practice is to follow the algorithm to aid diagnosis.

Diagnosis of sepsis

Doctors considering a diagnosis of sepsis look for:

  • Mental state – Alteration in mental state.
  • Blood Pressure – Decrease of systolic blood pressure.
  • Breathing – Respiratory rate of more than 25 breaths per minute.
  • Circulation and hydration – Increased heart rate > 130 bpm and difficulty passing urine.
  • Temperature – tympanic temperature less than 36.
  • Skin – mottled or ashen, cyanosis of skin, lips or tongue, non-blanching rash of skin.

Treatment and management of sepsis

  • Deliver high flow oxygen.
  • Take blood cultures.
  • Administer empiric intravenous antibiotics.
  • Measure serum lactate and send for a full blood count.
  • Start IV fluid resuscitation.
  • Accurate urine output measurement.

Sometimes failure to follow diagnostic or treatment guidelines can result in a poor outcome. If you or a member of your family have been affected by sepsis and diagnosis and treatment has been delayed this could give rise to a claim. Contact a member of our clinical negligence team on 0800 316 8892 for further advice, or contact us online.