Sepsis – recognising the signs

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Medical Negligence on Monday, February 5th, 2024

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that can lead to shock, organ failure, limb loss and even death if not spotted and treated quickly. In this article, we’ll explain what sepsis is, how to spot the signs and symptoms, and why it’s so important to seek urgent medical assistance.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is triggered when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to attack your body’s own tissues and organs. This infection might take the form of, for instance, an infected cut, a minor cough or cold, or a chest infection. Nobody knows why some people develop sepsis in response to infections and others don’t; however, it is more common in people with underlying health conditions.

You may also know sepsis by the alternative terms septicaemia or blood poisoning.

Sadly, five people die of sepsis every single hour in the UK. 

Symptoms of sepsis

Knowing how to spot the signs and symptoms of sepsis could literally save lives. The symptoms may present differently in adults than children, so it’s important to know the signs in both.

Signs of sepsis in adults

The UK Sepsis Trust uses the mnemonic ‘SEPSIS’ as a handy reminder of the main signs and symptoms of sepsis in adults:

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.

Signs of sepsis in children

A child or baby may have sepsis if they present with the following symptoms:

  1. Very lethargic or won’t wake up
  2. Fits or convulsions
  3. Rapid breathing
  4. Very cold to the touch
  5. Mottled or blue-looking skin
  6. A rash that doesn’t fade with pressure.

Why is sepsis misdiagnosed?

Sadly, many sepsis deaths could have been prevented with timelier diagnosis and treatment. This might be because the sufferer has not sought help quickly enough, but sometimes it is because sepsis symptoms have been misdiagnosed by a medical professional.

Whilst the early signs of sepsis can present as flu or fever,  an experienced medical professional should be able to spot the warning signs and refer the patient for further tests.

Misdiagnosed sepsis can lead to life-changing injuries or fatal outcomes for patients. Those who do recover may require costly medical treatment, therapy, equipment or mobility aids in order to recuperate and move on with their lives.

Making a sepsis medical negligence claim

If you have been affected by sepsis or have lost a loved one to the condition, you may be wondering whether you have grounds for a medical negligence case. At Attwaters Jameson Hill, our empathetic Medical Negligence team understands just how hard it can be to pursue a time-consuming and stressful legal case when you are already struggling with an injury or a loss.

 We’re here to guide you through the process every step of the way, and will fight tooth and nail to secure you the compensation you deserve.

Please do get in touch on 0330 221 8855 or email enquiries@attwaters.co.uk for an initial assessment of your claim.

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