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Medical staff urged to suspect sepsis in patients sooner

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Suspected sepsis patients should be treated as an emergency and in the same way as a heart attack the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have recommended.

NICE is this week urging doctors to question whether a patient could potentially have sepsis when they are unwell with an infection and symptoms include fever, fast breathing and a fast heart rate.

The problem, caused when the body's immune system overreacts to infection, leads to 44,000 UK deaths a year, but experts estimate between 5,000 and 13,000 could be avoided.

Sepsis can lead to severe organ failure, shock and death if not treated early enough.

“It is pleasing to see recommendations in place to safeguard patients and improve first response care,” said medical negligence partner John Pollitt.  “I have had many clients over the years for whom sepsis has been a very serious complication and resulted in a life changing illness.  The earlier it is detected the better and as always I welcome anything to improve diagnosis of serious illness, especially in our very bust A&E departments when speed and accurate care is essential.”

Patients have sadly died unnecessarily from sepsis due to staff not thinking to diagnose sepsis soon enough and these guidelines from NICE come after a baby boy passed away when a 999 call-handler failed to spot the signs of his serious illness.

Sepsis happens when the body's immune system - the way the body responds to bugs and germs - goes into overdrive.  The initial problem can be quite mild and start anywhere - from a cut on the finger to a chest or urine infection, but when not diagnosed correctly and left untreated it can lead to serious complications, or even be fatal.

If you think you or a relative has been misdiagnosed or not received the help and advice you expected and want to speak to one of our team about making a medical negligence claim call 0161 785 3500.

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.

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