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New ‘One-Hour’ Rule For Treating Sepsis Patients Could Save Lives

Hospital patients displaying signs of life-threatening sepsis must be seen by a senior doctor within an hour, under new guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

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Those classed as high risk must also receive intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

The new guidance, published on 10 March, 2017, states that clinicians in any setting, but specifically accident and emergency departments or GP practices, should check patients presenting with suspected sepsis for specific signs that determine whether their symptoms are life-threatening.

As medical negligence lawyers we unfortunately see how delays in treating sepsis have led to severe, lifelong injuries for some of our clients. Some have lost loved ones as a result of failure to act swiftly on the warning signs.

NICE’s advice follows previous guidance that sepsis, should be treated as an emergency in the same way as a heart attack.

I am pursuing a successful case on behalf of Reuben Harvey-Smith who was just three years old when he had to have both his legs, below the knee, and most of his fingers amputated after doctors failed to spot the signs of toxic shock syndrome. It is vital to both know the signs and act on them quickly to avoid such devastating consequences.

For more information on Reuben’s case, and insights from Reuben’s mum, see: Toddler Has Legs And Fingers Amputated After Doctors Fail to Spot Signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome

recent study from the York Health Economics Consortium suggests that 260,000 people in the UK develop sepsis every year and the UK Sepsis Trust estimates that around 44,000 people per year die from the condition.

Experts believe that, by treating cases of sepsis early enough, between 5,000 and 13,000 deaths could be avoided. For further information on sepsis and toxic shock syndrome, see our free, printable advice guide here

NICE’s advice follows previous guidance that sepsis, should be treated as an emergency in the same way as a heart attack.

For more information, please see our previous blog: What Happens When Sepsis Isn’t Treated as Urgently as Heart Attacks?




Tim Deeming is a principal lawyer, specialising in clinical and medical negligence claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Cambridge.

For a free consultation about a clinical or medical negligence compensation claim call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.


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