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NHS Patients' Lives at Risk Due to Delays in Treating Sepsis

View profile for Simon Pimlott
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Delays in treating sepsis are putting patients’ lives at risk, according to new research carried out by BBC News.

Sepsis is a serious, life-threatening condition that affects at least 250,000 people a year in the UK and is fatal in around 1 in 5 cases. NHS guidelines say that patients with suspected sepsis should be placed on an antibiotic drip within an hour of potential symptoms being identified to give the best chance of effective treatment.

However, a BBC analysis of official figures from more than 100 NHS hospital trusts shows that around 25% of patients with suspected sepsis did not receive treatment within one hour in the period covering between January and March this year.

Any delay in treatment can significantly increase the risk of long-term health complications and death for patients with sepsis. A recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sepsis shows that 14,000 lives a year could be saved by better awareness across the NHS of how to recognise and treat sepsis.

Dr Ron Daniels, of the UK Sepsis Trust, called the figures "concerning" that these treatment delays showed patients are being put at risk. Dr Daniels highlighted the importance of the one-hour treatment window, saying it was "essential to increase the chances of surviving" and adding that: "There is no reason really why it should take longer".

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a condition caused when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection, causing damage to its own tissues and organs. Without fast treatment with antibiotics, sepsis can lead to organ failure and death.

The condition affects around 250,000 people a year, with 150,000 of these being serious cases and 1 in 10 sepsis patients being children. Sepsis is responsible for 52,000 deaths a year in the UK and around 40% of sepsis survivors suffer permanent, life-changing consequences, including physical, cognitive and psychological effects.

What are the first signs of sepsis?

Sepsis can be hard to diagnose with a number of different symptoms that can act as potential warning sides. The symptoms also tend to be different in children and adults, making the condition even more challenging to spot.

Common symptoms associated with sepsis in babies and children include:

  • Mottled, bluish or pale skin
  • Acting lethargic or hard to wake up
  • Being abnormally cold to tough
  • Very fast breathing
  • A rash that does not fade when pressed
  • Fits or convulsions

Common symptoms in adults include:

  • An abnormally high or low body temperature
  • Chills and shivering
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Difficult breathing
  • Feeling or acting unusually

If you believe you, your child or a loved one may be suffering from sepsis, you should seek urgent medical advice by calling NHS 111.

Get expert help to claim compensation for delayed sepsis treatment

If you or a loved one have been harmed as a result of negligent treatment of sepsis, you are likely to be entitled to substantial compensation. Making a claim might seem complicated and intimidating, but with the right legal advice and support the process can be relatively straightforward for you, with most claims settled out of court.

IBB Claims has extensive experience helping people to claim compensation for sepsis negligence as well as all other types of medical negligence claims. We can provide the clear legal expertise and sympathetic personal support you need to give you the best chance of securing compensation while making the claims process as easy as possible on you.

We can offer you a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and advise you on whether we believe you have grounds for a claim, as well as the potential value of your claim. We offer no win, no fee deals, so there is usually no upfront cost to start a claim.

To find out more about making a sepsis negligence claim or to book your free initial consultation, please get in touch now by calling 0333 123 9099 or requesting a call back.

The information contained within our Blog Articles is provided as general information only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice or seek to be an exhaustive statement of the law and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. For further details, please see our terms of use policy.