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Shocking Sepsis Study Reveals Hospital Failings: Would You Know The Signs?

Today it was reported that a mum of four died from sepsis caused by a scratch she sustained while swimming in the sea on holiday. The inquest also heard that the outcome may have been different at a hospital in the UK. And yet the epidemic of misdiagnosed sepsis closer to home continues to raise concerns.

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Liz Fairclough’s tragic death is an example of how, without awareness of sepsis, a seemingly minor cut can have devastating consequences. Bulgarian medics mistook Mrs Fairclough’s symptoms of sepsis for a torn muscle. An inquest heard she developed cellulitis, an infection that is easily treated with antibiotics, which led to septic shock in August, 2016.


Sepsis Failings in UK Health Care

In November it was announced that hospitals will incur docked NHS funding if measures aren’t made to meet targets in tackling sepsis.

A major audit has since found that half of patients with possible sepsis are forced to wait more than an hour for urgent treatment. NHS guidelines state that anyone with symptoms should be assessed and treated within 60 minutes of their arrival at hospital. The study, carried out by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, included data from 196 A&E units in England. It revealed that only 44 per cent of 13,000 patients received antibiotics within an hour of arriving at A&E units.

The battle against sepsis is one that may be fought by raising awareness. This starts at home by recognising the symptoms of sepsis and toxic shock syndrome.

In December the NHS launched a sepsis awareness campaign. In an effort to educate people on the symptoms and risks of sepsis, leaflets have been distributed in casualty departments, GP surgeries and maternity wards.

Hospital trusts and health care professionals ought to treat symptoms of sepsis or toxic shock syndrome as urgently as those of a heart attack. When they neglect to do so, they may be held accountable for the devastating effects of these failings. I am pursuing a medical negligence claim on behalf of a three-year-old boy who had both his legs, below the knee, and most of his fingers amputated after doctors failed to spot the signs of toxic shock syndrome.



Sepsis Treatment: What You Need to Know

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, every year in the UK there are 150,000 cases of sepsis, and it is responsible for more than 44,000 deaths – more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. Sepsis is one of the most common causes of death in intensive care units.

The battle against sepsis is one that may be fought by raising awareness. This starts at home by recognising the symptoms of sepsis and toxic shock syndrome.

If you think that you may have any of the symptoms of sepsis, the NHS advises that you should act immediately and call for an ambulance. Without rapid treatment, sepsis can spread to major organs with extreme consequences. For further information on sepsis and toxic shock syndrome, see our free, printable advice guide here


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.

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

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