What is sepsis?

Here, medical negligence solicitors Blackwater Law discuss sepsis, the symptoms and outcomes of this potentially fatal condition.

Statistics show that there are around 123,000 cases of sepsis in England each year with approximately 37,000 people thought to die from the condition. Given the huge scale of the condition, early diagnosis is often critical in maximising survival rates. As a result, those who have suffered from a delayed diagnosis of sepsis may be entitled to pursue a delayed diagnosis claim should suffering have occurred as a result.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a condition that can occur as a result of an infection such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), pneumonia and infections in the stomach. It can occur as the result of a viral or fungal infection but bacterial infections are the most common causes of sepsis. It’s not uncommon for the source of sepsis to not be identified.

What causes sepsis?

When an infection occurs, your body will try to keep this to one place – called a localised infection. White blood cells travel to the source of the infection to destroy the germs. However, when an immune system is weakened or if the infection is particularly severe the body can go into overdrive and inflammation can quickly affect the entire body, not just the source of the infection. When the immune system goes into overdrive it will then begin to attack the rest of the body which can lead to septic shock and organ failure. Sepsis therefore either affects multiple organs or even the entire body.

Who can get sepsis?

Sepsis can affect anyone although those with a weakened immune system are at greater risk. It is important that GPs and doctors bear this in mind when reviewing patients that are suffering from any symptoms of sepsis and with a weakened immune system, otherwise they may find themselves at risk of a GP negligence claim. Whilst it can affect everyone men are slightly more susceptible than women as are the elderly or very young. Conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease increase the chances of developing sepsis due to a compromised immune system and those who are pregnant also have a higher risk.


Symptoms of sepsis include:

  • A high temperature and fever, or a very low body temperature
  • Fast breathing and a fast heartrate
  • Feeling dizzy or faint

For smaller children under the age of five there are additional symptoms that could indicate sepsis:

  • Weak or continuous crying
  • Bulging soft spot on top of baby’s head
  • Eyes look sunken
  • Child is highly irritable

The varied symptoms can make it hard to diagnose sepsis as often they can present as other, less serious conditions. However, a rapid diagnosis is crucial as the condition can often deteriorate rapidly and a late diagnosis can result in life changing injuries or even be fatal. As a result those who have suffered may wish to pursue a misdiagnosis claim should their condition have initially been diagnosed as something less severe. This may be part of a wider hospital negligence claim should this have occurred within a hospital setting.



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Call today and speak to Jason Brady, specialist medical negligence solicitor. Find out if you can claim compensation.

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