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Sepsis: What is it and how does it occur?

Here at Thorneycroft Solicitors our clinical negligence team have encountered individuals who have suffered a wide variety of injuries as a result of substandard medical care, as a result we believe it’s important to highlight as many conditions as possible as well as the risks they pose to people’s health, and finally how you can make a clinical negligence claim if you are a victim.

In this article, we’ll discuss sepsis, a potentially lethal condition that is often hidden but that can leave a plethora of devastating consequences in its wake.

What is sepsis?

Approximately 44,000 people lose their life as a result of sepsis each year in the UK. In comparison to other conditions such as cancer and heart disease, the condition has had very little media coverage, however, this doesn’t decrease its severity.

Otherwise known as septicaemia or blood poisoning, sepsis occurs when the body reacts abnormally to a form of bacteria or an infection.

Many people can experience a mild form of sepsis as a result of cuts, insect bites, chest infections, urine infections or other minor illnesses, and this can result in them feeling ill, but usually doesn’t mean that they’ll need hospital treatment.

On the other hand, should a more serious form of sepsis become active, the human body will release chemicals to fight the infection and this will inflame cells within the body.

Should this be the case it’s vital that hospital treatment is sought out straight away, as it can cause septic shock, which comes as a result of the inflamed cells causing clotting and restricting oxygen distribution within the blood.

This can lead to organ failure or a potentially fatal fall in blood pressure.

However, even severe cases of sepsis can be treated if they are diagnosed early enough.

Why is sepsis such a big problem for the NHS?

Not only can sepsis be fatal, it can also lead to lifelong impairment, disability for those who survive.

The reason that sepsis poses such a big issue for medical care teams is that it is notoriously difficult to diagnose.

Often the symptoms of sepsis are similar to that of a severe case of the flu or a bad chest infection.

One of the more obvious symptoms that medical care teams look out for is a rash that won’t go away when pressed under a glass.

Once sepsis is diagnosed it’s essential that treatment begins as soon as possible to counteract the effects. The method of treatment is often via intravenous fluids and antibiotics, often within an intensive care unit to ensure that staff are monitoring the patient at regular intervals.

The sooner sepsis is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Failing to diagnose a case of sepsis soon enough could result in a claim being made for clinical negligence.

What can be done to improve the diagnosis of sepsis?

A new ‘smart plaster’ that can detect the early signs of sepsis is set to be introduced by the NHS in hospitals across the UK.

The new invention will be able to identify a sepsis patient’s deterioration up to 6 hours early than the current methods allow.

This reduction in diagnosis time could potentially save a patient’s life.

It works by placing a 6-inch sensor is placed on the patient’s chest and measures respiratory rates 25 times each second and can send the data a tablet, computer or smartphone within the hospital.

The UK Sepsis Trust is also continually attempting to raise awareness about the condition, especially amongst the public and healthcare professionals.

If you would like more information about the UK Sepsis Trust and the work that they do you can find out more by clicking here.


Whilst not all cases of sepsis are as a result of negligence, unfortunately, sometimes clinical negligence is the cause.

If you or one of your loved ones have suffered from sepsis and believe it came as a result of substandard medical care, our team of clinical negligence solicitors can help you secure the compensation you deserve.

As with any medical negligence case, it’s vital that the right solicitor with the correct expertise in the area is chosen.

At Thorneycroft Solicitors you can rest assured that we will work with the leading medical experts to ensure that we build a case that is as strong as possible in order to maximise the amount of compensation that you receive.

If you would like to discuss your potential case, you can call us for free today on 0800 1979 345 or alternatively you can get in contact by completing our online enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you at a more appropriate time for you.