Wollen Michelmore Solicitors Devon

world sepsis day - Everything you need to know about sepsis

Sepsis is the most common, but least recognised disease. 

Sepsis carries a high risk of death and long-term complications. It remains the primary cause of death from infection despite advances in modern medicine, including vaccines, antibiotics, and intensive care. Sepsis, which is often misunderstood by the public as “blood-poisoning” is one of the leading causes of death around the world. Sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. It may lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. Between one third and one half of patients with sepsis die.

In the developing world, sepsis accounts for 60-80% of lost lives per year in childhood, killing more than 6 million neonates and children yearly and is responsible for more than 100,000 cases of maternal sepsis. Every hour, about 50 people die from sepsis.

Sepsis causes more deaths than prostate cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. Globally, an estimated 20 – 30 million cases of sepsis occurs each year. Experts in the field believe sepsis is actually responsible for the majority of the mortality associated with HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia and other infections acquired in the community, in healthcare settings and by traumatic injury. Patients surviving sepsis have double the risk of death in the following 5 years compared with hospitalized controls and suffer from physical, cognitive and affective health problems.

Incidence is increasing dramatically

The incidence of sepsis is increasing dramatically, due to the ageing population, and despite the advantages of modern medicine including vaccines, antibiotics and intensive care. Hospitalisations of sepsis have more than doubled over the last 10 years and have overtaken those for myocardinal infarction in the US (Fig.1). International and national surveys indicate that 20-40% of sepsis patients that require treatment in the intensive unit developed sepsis outside the hospital.  The incidence of sepsis developing after survery trebled from 1997 to 2006. 

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The diagnosis of sepsis is often delayed

Sepsis is often diagnosed too late, because the clinical symptoms and laboratory signs that are currently used for the diagnosis of sepsis, like raised temperature, increased pulse or breathing rate, or white blood cell count are unspecific. In children, the signs and symptoms may be subtle and deterioration rapid. Sepsis is under-recognized and poorly understood due to confusion about its definition among patients and healthcare providers, lack of documentation of sepsis as a cause of death on death certificates, inadequate diagnostic tools, and inconsistent application of standardized clinical guidelines to treat sepsis. 


Sepsis is a medical emergency

Rapid initiation of simple, timely interventions including antimicrobials, intravenous fluids and targeted treatment to restore the circulation can halve the risk of dying. Patients with suspected sepsis should be referred immediately to an appropriate facility. Early sepsis treatment is cost effective, reducing hospital and Critical Care bed days for patients. Unfortunately, sepsis is still mostly overlooked and recognized too late.


Article provided by - World Sepsis Day Charity


Failing to recognise or treat sepsis properly, particularly in children, can have catastrophic consequences and at worst can cause death. Sepsis can strike out of the blue, or as a result of other illnesses or injuries.

Negligence can occur when medical professionals fail to diagnose and promptly treat the sepsis symptoms. Click here for more information about how to make a claim. 

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