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Need For Speed

Highlighting the ‘need for speed’ to save lives from sepsis

According to The UK Sepsis Trust, patients diagnosed with sepsis and treated within the first hour have an 80% chance of surviving.

Yet despite the infection being treatable it has been labelled ‘the silent killer’ – mainly because of a lack of public awareness of how quickly it kills, and the failure of medical professionals to spot it and treat patients appropriately.

After six hours without treatment, a patient’s chances of surviving will reduce to just 30% – highlighting the need for greater awareness – and the need for speed.

In the UK alone, 44,000 people lose their lives to sepsis every year – more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.

With early diagnosis it is easily treatable and avoidable, and with greater understanding of the symptoms and faster appropriate treatment, many of the thousand who have lost their lives could have gone on to make a full recovery.

At Hudgell Solicitors, we sadly see many families tragically losing loved ones when the symptoms of sepsis are not acted upon quickly enough by medical professionals.

It is why our dedicated legal specialists are committed to supporting families through challenging poor care, and charities campaigning to reduce the number of deaths by raising awareness whenever and wherever possible.

Our work and campaign

Our specialist solicitors have represented families in holding health bodies to account when sepsis has either not been considered at all, or not identified early enough to ensure appropriate treatment.

Too often symptoms are dismissed as signs of other common illnesses, as it can be caused by any infection, even the most minor.

It is why we are campaigning through our ‘The Hour of Need’ campaign for Sepsis to be considered in any case where there has been rapidly worsening symptoms or illness.

There is a need for speed to recognise and diagnose symptoms.

The UK Sepsis Trust says symptoms for adults are;

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine (in a day)
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you’re going to die
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

Symptoms to spot sepsis in children are;

  • Very fast breathing
  • Having a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  • Looking mottled, bluish, or pale
  • A rash that does not fade when pressed
  • Being lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feeling abnormally cold to touch

A child under 5 may have sepsis if he or she;

  • Is not feeding
  • Is vomiting repeatedly
  • Has not passed urine for 12 hours

Campaign Commitment

As part of our work, we are committed to challenging cases of medical care where sepsis has been missed or not investigated.

We secured admissions from a hospital trust for failing to act upon sepsis symptoms in a three-year-old girl when she was suffering from chickenpox.

The girl had first been taken to an Urgent Care Centre by her parents with a raised temperature of 38 degrees and swelling around her eyes. She was also found to have a raised heartbeat and had swelling to her foot.

Despite this, doctors failed to realise her life was in danger, and a day after being sent home the girl suffered a cardiac arrest at home and stopped breathing.

It was concluded that doctors should have acted quicker to the symptoms and prescribed antibiotics to tackle the blood infection, which would have saved her life.

Her death was just a week after she had been taken ill with chickenpox.

Sepsis is now one of the biggest single killers and it has become so because both the public and the medical profession have been slow to recognise and realise the danger.

“New NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) standards introduced last year stressed that staff in any setting, from GPs to paramedics, should check people for specific signs that will show if their symptoms are life-threatening.

“This includes taking their temperature or heart rate, or checking for rashes and skin discolouration. Anyone found to be high-risk should be seen by senior hospital staff immediately and given the right treatment within an hour.

“This direction highlights the need for speed – from the individual themselves or their families to the medical professionals they see.

“As part of our work we will continue to highlight where care is not as it should be, and raise awareness of symptoms to help turn the tide and hopefully help reduce death numbers from sepsis in years to come.”

Sue Jackson

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