Every single hour, five people in the UK die from Sepsis. The illness takes over 48,000 lives a year – yet it’s still known as the silent killer.
This is why we all have a crucial role in raising awareness so as many people as possible know the warning signs, especially with so much focus on COVID-19. Sunday 13 September marked World Sepsis Day, an annual awareness day which provides an opportunity for us all to unite in the fight against sepsis, with the ultimate aim of saving lives.
In this article we take a look at the warning signs, a special edition of our podcast and Sophia’s story, an incredible young girl who lost her sight as a result of sepsis.
What should you look out for?
The UK Sepsis Trust and Public Health England came together to agree on a set of symptoms that people should look for that should prompt urgent action. These are:
S – Slurred speech or confusion
E – Extreme pain in the muscles or joints
P – Passing very little or no fluid in a day
S – Severe breathlessness
I – “It feels like I’m going to die”
S – Skin that’s mottled or discoloured or very pale
Even during a pandemic, it’s very important that if you or your loved one suffers with any of the above symptoms, or if something else just doesn’t feel right and you think it could be sepsis, that you waste no time and seek immediate medical advice or assistance.
Listen to our latest podcast
Ahead of World Sepsis Day, we invited two very special guests onto our latest podcast to take an in-depth look at the illness, the life-changing impact it can have and the additional challenges caused by COVID-19.
Our guest host
Sarah Coles, a medical negligence expert, is joined by Dr Ron Daniels BEM, the founder of UK Sepsis Trust and an ICU consultant. Ron provides clinical advice to NHS England, the Department of Health and to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Ron’s knowledge of sepsis is second to none, and he talks at length on the podcast about what exactly sepsis is, the impact it has, and the crucial role UK Sepsis Trust plays in raising awareness and the challenges they’re facing in doing this during a pandemic. He also explains why the World Health Organisation has called for global action on sepsis and what more we can all do.
Sarah is also joined by
Andrea, an amazing client of ours. Andrea first went to hospital in March 2016 with flu-like symptoms. She was diagnosed with sepsis but didn’t get the treatment she needed quickly enough. Andrea developed problems with the blood supply to her legs and they had to be amputated. Losing her legs had a huge impact on our client, both physically and psychologically. Andrea talks candidly on the podcast about how her life has changed, how she’s struggled during lockdown and her hopes for a brighter future ahead.
download our podcast as an mp3 here, but make sure to look out for this episode and all our future ones on Apple Podcasts, Podbean, or Spotify.
Sophia’s sepsis story
Four year-old Sophia suffered a brain injury due to a delay in treating sepsis. Sophia was already living with asplenia, which means she has no spleen and is at high risk of infection.
In October 2018, Sophia became unwell – vomiting with a high temperature, so her parents took her to hospital where they waited for a diagnosis for more than an hour.
In the time the family were waiting for Sophia to be seen, she collapsed, and was then intubated and diagnosed with sepsis. Intravenous antibiotics were administered via a central line but it soon became apparent that she had sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. In addition to this, a range of her motor skills were affected, including her speech and mobility, and she suffered a cortical visual injury.
A life changing illness
Almost two years on, Sophia is now registered blind, her brain injury led to speech problems resulting from neurological damage and she’s easily fatigued. After receiving the diagnosis, her parents Laura and Heather asked us to investigate the care Sophia had received. We were able to help them gain access to specialist treatment and therapies to help with their daughter’s progress, so she’s able to live life as best she can.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pinderfields Hospital, admitted that had treatment for sepsis started sooner – within an hour of her arriving in hospital - Sophia would have avoided her injuries.
The family’s solicitor,
Rachelle Mahapatra, explains: “The past two years have been incredibly difficult for Sophia’s family, having to go through the trauma of sepsis and the lasting impact it has had on their lives.”
"Through our work, we sadly often see how quickly sepsis can have life changing impacts, and how early detection and treatment are key to beating it and preventing any after-effects."
A future focused on Sophia
Sophia has undertaken rehabilitation to relearn many of the skills she lost as a result of her injuries, including regular physiotherapy to help improve her walking. With the support of crowdfunding, Laura and Heather have also purchased a hyperbaric chamber, which she uses for an hour a day. The therapy is to help to try and reverse the effects of the brain injury.
Her parents have also been working with an education expert who has provided specialist sensory education books. Every six weeks, she attends Blue Skies Ahead for intensive treatment.
Sophia lives with her parents Laura and Heather, both 37, who both work as PE teachers. She has an older brother, six-year-old Finlay.
Laura said: “It all happened so quickly and has had a massive impact on our day to day lives, but Sophia has made incredible progress since her diagnosis, learning so many skills again, and we are so proud of how far she has come. Sophia, along with her brother Finlay, mean the world to us and, while we cannot turn back the clock and change what she has gone through, we are determined to help her live her life to the best of her ability and make sure she doesn’t miss out on anything.
"We also hope that this will urge others to be aware of the symptoms of sepsis and highlight how dangerous it can if not treated early enough.”
You can find out more about sepsis and the great work of the UK Sepsis Trust here.
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