Sepsis Statistics in the UK – Latest Figures for 2023

By Benjamin Ho

people in a hospital waiting room

Sepsis continues to be a significant health concern in the United Kingdom. This article presents a factsheet on the condition, accompanied by the latest available statistics regarding cases, claims, and deaths in 2023.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is the result of the body responding to an infection in a manner which damages its own tissues and organs. It can lead to organ failure, septic shock, and even death if not identified and treated promptly. Common signs of sepsis include fever, elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, confusion, and extreme pain or general discomfort.

Sepsis statistics in the UK

Cases of sepsis:

  • According to the UK Sepsis Trust, around 245,000 cases of sepsis occur in the UK each year.
  • The incidence rate of sepsis has been steadily increasing over the past decade, with improved awareness and better diagnosis.

Sepsis-related deaths:

Sepsis in healthcare settings:

  • The National Health Service (NHS) is actively working to reduce sepsis-related deaths occurring within healthcare settings.
  • An NHS England Action Plan reports that around 70% of sepsis cases originate in the community. Hospital stays are thought to be responsible for a significant proportion of the remainder.

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Treating sepsis effectively

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) offers detailed guidance on the recognition, diagnosis and early management of sepsis, and qualified healthcare professionals should be well-versed in understanding and implementing such measures.

In 2006 the UK Sepsis Trust pioneered the use of the Sepsis Six; a set of protocols designed to help healthcare providers deliver fast, effective treatment and reduce mortality rates for patients with sepsis. The six measures consist of the following, which must be carried out within one hour of initial diagnosis for the best effect:

  1. Taking blood samples
  2. Administering antibiotics
  3. Measuring serial serum lactates
  4. Administering oxygen
  5. Taking urine samples
  6. Providing intravenous fluid resuscitation

Prompt use of these measures is thought to reduce mortality rates for sepsis patients by as much as 50%, as well as reducing the duration of any hospital stays and the likelihood of needing intensive care treatment.

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A doctor measuring a patient's blood pressure

Sepsis and medical negligence claims

Despite the abundance of medical knowledge readily available to healthcare staff on the treatment of sepsis, the condition can still sometimes be allowed to progress as a result of medical negligence, where healthcare professionals fail to identify or appropriately treat infections.

An August 2022 report by NHS Resolution identified sepsis cases as one of the three leading bases for clinical negligence claims against NHS GPs, alongside cancer and cardiac-related ailments. Delays in, or failure to diagnose sepsis were found to have occurred in 81% of the cases examined in the report, whilst a minority of claims related to failures to refer, monitor or follow-up medical arrangements.

The same report identifies general practitioners as being responsible in 62% of cases, and registered nurses in 24% of cases – the remainder of cases were attributed to trainee GPs, emergency care practitioners or could not be classified.

If you or a loved one are considering making a sepsis compensation claim, speak to a qualified clinical negligence solicitor for free initial advice and support in relation to making a no-win, no-fee compensation claim.

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