Sepsis Awareness Day

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13 September, 2021

Leonie Millard

World Sepsis Day is held on September 13th every year and is an opportunity for people to raise awareness about sepsis. Sepsis accounts for at least 11 million deaths worldwide annually.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is sometimes called septicaemia or blood poisoning. It happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body's own tissues and organs. It affects between 47 and 50 million people every year, with at least 11 million dying - one death every 2.8 seconds. 20% of all deaths worldwide are associated with sepsis. Depending on country, mortality varies between 15 and more than 50%. Many surviving patients suffer from the consequences of sepsis for the rest of their lives. Therefore, it is vital to treat sepsis as soon as possible.

Common Causes

Most types of microorganisms can cause sepsis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. However, it may also be caused by infections with seasonal influenza viruses, dengue viruses, and highly transmissible pathogens of public health concern such as avian and swine influenza viruses, Ebola, and yellow fever viruses.

The Cambridge News reported that a grandfather who had his leg amputated when he developed deadly sepsis after stubbing his toe now faces losing the remaining limb in a bid to save his life. He was wearing flip flops when he stumbled over a rock while on a family holiday in Turkey. He didn't think much of his injury other than to put a plaster on his left foot when it started bleeding. When he returned home to the UK he noticed his foot was swollen and his toe had gone purple. He went to his GP who dismissed his fears but over the next few months, the pain got worse until he eventually took himself to hospital.

Doctors discovered he had an infection which had caused sepsis and his family were shell-shocked when they were warned he was just hours from death. Surgeons amputated the middle toe of his foot but the sepsis had already spread and he was forced to have his leg removed below the knee.

If you think that you are suffering from sepsis then seek medical attention immediately.

How to spot sepsis

Sepsis is frequently under-diagnosed in the early stages - when it is still potentially reversible.

Symptoms that might indicate sepsis:

Slurred speech or confusion

Extreme shivering or muscle pain, fever

Passing no urine all day

Severe breathlessness

It feels like you're going to die

Skin mottled or discolored

If you believe that you are suffering from sepsis, then you should seek medical help and attention immediately. The Global Sepsis Alliance states that COVID-19 does indeed cause sepsis. Signs of multi-organ injury typical of sepsis occur in approximately 2-5% of those with COVID-19 after approximately 8-10 days. Many patients affected by COVID-19 will die from sepsis and its complications. It is therefore vital to know and recognise early signs of sepsis, and initiate prompt treatment when diagnosed. Timely intervention saves life and organ function.

If you or someone you know has received a delayed or misdiagnosis of sepsis, then you may have a claim for compensation.

For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here

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