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Sepsis deaths up by one third- how to spot the danger signs and save a life

Death due to sepsis in hospitals have jumped by one third up to April 2017. Read here about how more deaths are being blamed on sepsis and what you can do.

Sepsis deaths can be avoided if  found earlier and treated. We can help you and your loved ones if the worse happens. Corries are leading personal injury solicitors. We act for victims of personal injury throughout the UK.

Sepsis deaths– the figures

A  new report confirms in the year ending April 2017 there were 15,722 deaths in hospital or within 30 days of discharge where sepsis was the leading cause.  This represents an increase of almost one third.

It is suspected by the UK Sepsis Trust that sepsis is one of the most common causes of death in the UK.  They suspect that up to 44,000 people a year in hospital and in the community die due to this condition.

The NHS confirm up to 2016 that there are about 123,000 cases of sepsis in hospital and in the community each year.

There is some dispute regarding the recording of and blame for sepsis in deaths in hospitals and in the community.

sepsis death
sepsis death can be avoided by early detection and treatment

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a condition which is triggered by infection.  It is in fact a condition of the immune system going into overdrive.

Typically this will start with an infection that can start from anywhere.  Then, in the usual course of events, your immune system will fight the infection to stop it spreading.  However, if the infection manages to spread quickly around the body then the immune system will launch a massive immune response to fight it. This can have a catastrophic effects on the body leading to septic shock, organ failure and even death.

The NHS overview on sepsis is very good and it can be accessed here

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

In particular symptoms of sepsis which can be monitored both at home and in hospital include:-

  • Slurred speech
  • Passing no urine in a day
  • Extremely shivering or muscle pain
  • Skin mottled or discoloured
  • Feeling like “I feel I might die”

In particular symptoms in younger children can also include:-

  • Abnormally cold to touch
  • Breathing very fast
  • A rash that does not disappear when you press it
  • has a fit or convulsion
  • Looks mottled blueish or pale
  • Very lethargic or difficult to wake.

Sepsis Deaths- Response to the article

Leading sepsis experts believe that the true figure of deaths due to sepsis both in hospitals and in the home could be as high as 44,000 per year.  It noted however the hospital records sometimes make it difficult to keep a true track. Very often death is recorded as pneumonia or multi organ failure.

It was pointed out that the treatment of sepsis involves very basic interventions. This means finding the source of the infection and then directing antibiotics to it.

The need for early and prompt treatment is essential.  It is said that for each hour of delay in giving antibiotics increases the risks of dying by several per cent per hour. Longer delays can be fatal.

There are some hospital trusts which do better with sepsis than others. Most noteworthy is a focus on screening for sepsis. This is being led by the UK Sepsis Trust. It was formed by a group of doctors at the Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham. The exercise aims to increase measures and thus cut down the deaths due to sepsis throughout the UK.

The NHS do not accept that this increase in deaths is due to more sepsis. Instead they argue that mis reporting using sepsis as a fall back diagnosis means the figures have risen. They also say that better recording and finding means the non fatal outcomes are improved. They see no cause for alarm.

What can you do?

If you are concerned that infection may be causing greater problems you can ask your doctors to consider the following steps:-

  • Urine or stool samples;
  • Open wound culture – where a small sample of tissue, skin or fluid is taken from the area;
  • Respiratory secretion testing – of saliva phlegm or mucus;
  • blood pressure tests;
  • image studying such as x-rays, ultra sound or CT scans.

Taking these steps may help find the source of infection and start treatment much earlier. If your doctor does not see the need for these tests then ask them why. If necessary then seek a second opinion.


Deaths due to sepsis are truly sad and affect people of all ages. Knowing that such deaths can be avoided by early and sensible treating and treatment should be a target not only for the NHS but for all of us. If you know someone or suspect you have sepsis then make yourself heard. It might just save your life.

If you have had an infection missed or had problems due to an infection then call our claim team on 0800 655 6550 or visit our enquiry page right here

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