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Martha’s Rule Welcomed by Solicitors

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The first phase of Martha’s Rule is being implemented in hospitals and it is hoped it will enable patients, families, carers and staff to seek an urgent review from a separate care team if they have concerns regarding deteriorating symptoms and suspected sepsis, all of which is welcomed by our medical negligence solicitors.

Martha's Rule: What happened?

In August 2021, 13-year-old Martha Mills was admitted to hospital when she sustained a pancreatic injury after falling from her bike.  She developed an infection in the hospital and her condition deteriorated over 10 days.  This led to sepsis and sadly, she died.  A Coroner ruled that Martha would probably have survived if she had been transferred to intensive care earlier.  Since then, Martha’s family has campaigned for a review in care.

Our medical negligence solicitors all too often see serious sepsis cases that could have been prevented.

Sepsis the silent killer

“Sepsis is a silent killer.  It is not uncommon for medical professionals to miss the signs.  However, if diagnosed early enough, it can be treated with antibiotics.  When the signs of sepsis are not recognised and it is left untreated, it can become serious, resulting in shock, multi-organ failure and tragically in some cases, even death”, said Medical Negligence Paralegal, Lois Goddard.

“We sincerely hope that the implementation of Martha’s Rule will lead to faster diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, which will in turn reduce cases and increase survival rates,” added Lois.

Signs of Sepsis

  • Difficulty breathing – either breathless or fast breathing
  • A high temperature (fever) or low body temperature
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Slurred speech
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Very lethargic or difficult to rouse
  • A skin rash, mottled or blueish with a pale complexion
  • Decreased urine output

Implementing Martha's Rule

Now the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and NHS England have committed to implementing ‘Martha’s Rule’; to address the issue.

Implementation will be phased across the NHS from this year and then expanded across the NHS from 2025 onwards and rolled out across community and mental health hospitals.

The three proposed components of Martha’s Rule are:

  • All staff in NHS trusts must have 24/7 access to a rapid review from a critical care outreach team, who they can contact should they have concerns about a patient.
  • All patients, their families, carers, and advocates must also have access to the same 24/7 rapid review from a critical care outreach team, which they can contact via mechanisms advertised around the hospital, and more widely if they are worried about the patient’s condition.
  • The NHS must implement a structured approach to obtain information relating to a patient’s condition directly from patients and their families at least daily. In the first instance, this will cover all inpatients in acute and specialist trusts.

“Whilst we welcome measures to enhance safety in hospitals and improve patient care, it is always good to be aware of the warning signs of sepsis.  Never be afraid to question medical professionals and if you feel unsure or anxious about your own or a loved one’s treatment, then raise your concerns.  Do not feel intimated or think the doctors know best,” added Lois.

As part of Martha's Rule, it has been advocated that patients and their families have the legal right to a second opinion if they feel their concerns are being dismissed.

How can we help?

For legal advice on pursuing a medical negligence claim including sepsis cases contact our experienced medical negligence solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Lois Goddard


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