Sepsis Diagnosis Improvements Needed 'To Save Lives'

Lives Could Potentially Be Saved If Sepsis Diagnosis Improvements Are Made


Significant improvements are needed within NHS practices to prevent thousands of patients from needlessly dying from sepsis each year, according to a new report.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor is calling for new guidelines to be introduced to monitor the care and treatment of individuals suffering from the condition in a bid to reduce the number of deaths it causes, with a series of recommendations outlined in a new report entitled 'Time to Act'.

Sepsis - also known as blood poisoning - is triggered by other infections, such as pneumonia and those affecting the urinary tract, and causes the immune system to work much harder than usual. This can result in symptoms including dizziness, a fast heartbeat, fever and vomiting and diarrhoea.

If caught early, the illness can be treated with antibiotics, but in some cases it can prove fatal.

In fact, there is a higher mortality rate for sepsis than there is for heart attacks.

Currently, sepsis results in around 100,000 hospital admissions every year, costing the NHS approximately £20,000 per patient. Up to 37,000 people die from the condition annually.

In light of this, Ms Mellor would like to see staff and public campaigns relating to sepsis to help to raise awareness of the condition, developments in research and treatment, as well as better data collection from patients with sepsis to encourage future improvements regarding the disease.

Faster diagnosis of blood poisoning is vital, as the first few hours of infection are critical in determining a patient's survival.

Ms Mellor commented: "There needs to be a combined effort by the health sector to improve awareness, diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.

"We know that most lives are lost during the first few hours of arrival in hospitals and so [we] need quicker diagnosis and treatment, or else thousands more lives will be lost unnecessarily through this devastating condition."

She added that she welcomed the news that parliament will be using the information from the report to look into the matter with the NHS, showing complainants that change to procedures could be on its way in the near future.

Expert Opinion
The number of people dying from sepsis in the UK is extremely troubling as the condition can easily be treated by a course of antibiotics if diagnosed quickly. It is also very worrying that many of these lives are lost during the first few hours after a patient’s arrival in hospital. It is vital this report leads to measures being taken to not only increase awareness of blood poisoning and its symptoms among the public, but to also improve initial diagnosis and treatment within the health service.

“In our work we have seen numerous cases where the symptoms of sepsis have not been spotted, resulting in fatalities which have a devastating impact on the family and friends of those who have lost their lives. We would welcome improved guidance and public campaigns related to the condition in the hope it will increase the likelihood of early diagnosis, the start of effective treatment and a reduction in the number of sepsis-related fatalities in the UK.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner