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An urgent warning has been issued to NHS Trusts following concerns that some hospitals are not using the latest sepsis triage tool in order to correctly diagnose patients suffering from sepsis. The warning urges each Trust to ensure their accident and emergency departments review the current triage tool they are using, following a number of misdiagnoses of sepsis which ultimately may lead to sepsis misdiagnosis claims.
Sepsis is the result of a body’s reaction to infection which can often be life threatening. Whilst some patients are at higher risk of developing sepsis – such as those with chronic illnesses, a weakened immune system, the elderly or the very young, all individuals can develop sepsis. There are a number of symptoms that are present when sepsis is occurring including breathlessness, shivering or muscle pain and slurred speech. However, the condition can present differently on different people which makes it vital that a quick and accurate diagnosis is provided. Where an incorrect diagnosis is made and the patient suffers adversely as a result, misdiagnosis compensation may be sought.
In order to facilitate the rapid diagnosis of sepsis, many trusts utilise a triaging tool for emergency patients. However, the Manchester triage tool, which was originally developed in the 1990s and used across the country and abroad, has since been updated to reflect a number of changes. The tool ensured that there were consistent standards across all NHS Trusts when identifying emergency patients and helped minimise the number of claims for misdiagnosis.
However, with approximately 48,000 sepsis deaths each year in the UK, the NHS have undertaken several steps in order to reduce the number of deaths. This includes the rapid diagnosis of the condition as well as providing IV antibiotics and fluids at the outset. In instances where a trust is using the out-of-date Manchester triage tool, there may be a delay in providing vital medicine. Where this happens, a patient may seek delayed diagnosis compensation as a result.
Given the speed in which a patient with sepsis can deteriorate, a prompt diagnosis is key in ensuring the optimum outcome. However, an out-of-date system may delay treatment, or miss key symptoms of sepsis, resulting in an alternative diagnosis of a less severe condition. Where this is known to have happened, an individual may wish to seek a sepsis misdiagnosis claim.
It is unknown as to how many Trusts are currently using the previous system, and how many need to ensure they update their processes. However, it is hoped that this is treated as a priority following the notification issued by the NHS.