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Understanding Sepsis: FAQs and legal assistance for delayed diagnosis

Sepsis, often known as blood poisoning, is a serious medical condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection triggers a chain reaction that can lead to widespread inflammation, organ failure and even death. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is crucial. A delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis can result in devastating consequences for the patient. According to the UK Sepsis Trust five people die with sepsis every hour in the UK. In this article we explore some frequently asked questions and shed light on how our specialist medical negligence solicitors can assist in compensation claims relating to a delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis of sepsis.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that stems from the body’s inability to deal with an infection. It occurs when the body attempts to fight off harmful microorganisms in the blood or tissues but damages itself in the process. Sepsis can evolve very quickly hence why prompt medical treatment is required.

What causes sepsis?

Sepsis can result from various infections including bacterial, viral, or fungal. Typical causes include pneumonia, urinary tract infections, abdominal infections and skin infections.

Who is most vulnerable to developing sepsis? 

Young children, the elderly and patients undergoing various treatments are at higher risk of developing sepsis. They should be monitored regularly through observations such as checking their pulse, temperature and blood pressure. Early signs of sepsis are often missed or mistaken for a worsening infection.

How is sepsis diagnosed?

Diagnosing sepsis involves a combination of medical assessments including testing a patient’s temperature, heart rate, blood tests and respiratory rate. Other various medical assessments may be required including imaging scans to help determine the type of infection, where it is located and which parts of the body have been affected. Early recognition is crucial for effective treatment.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

Whilst symptoms can present differently in adults and children and there is no one sign, symptoms may include fever, rapid heartbeat, slurred speech, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure and confusion. A child’s symptoms may include other signs such as a rash that does not fade when you press it, a fit or convulsion, fast breathing, seeming lethargic or difficulty waking and not passing urine. Read more about the signs of sepsis here: How to Spot Sepsis

Why is early diagnosis important?

Sepsis can have life-changing consequences and if the appropriate treatment is not provided then it can lead to widespread inflammation, organ failure and even death. Even if sepsis is treated, long-lasting damage can still occur if there has been a delay in diagnosing and treating it. This can include damage to organs or limbs, insomnia and poor concentration.

Recent case highlights devastating consequences of delayed diagnosis 

In a recently published case, an A&E doctor has been struck off for failing to diagnose sepsis in a 75-year-old woman who later passed away. The tribunal revealed that the medical professional wrongly diagnosed her with a digestive system infection just hours before her death. He attempted to cover up his mistake by falsifying hospital records after her death. This case underscores the crucial importance of accurate and timely diagnosis emphasising the severe consequences of medical negligence. Read the full article here:

A&E doctor who failed to diagnose 75-year-old woman’s fatal sepsis and lied to ‘cover up’ the error is struck off.

Legal assistance for sepsis: delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis

Sepsis is a medical emergency that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a delay or misdiagnosis of sepsis our dedicated medical negligence solicitors are ready to provide the legal support you need. We understand the devastating impact that negligent treatment can have on individuals and their families and we are here to help guide you through the process. When things don’t go right, we are here to get you the answers you deserve and make your voice heard. 

With offices across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire including HullMarket RasenLincolnLouthScarborough and Grimsby, our lawyers have supported clients in these areas and across the UK for many years.

To speak to a member of our team today please call 0800 987 8800, email or fill in this contact form.

For further related information, read our recent article:

Sepsis: A Decade of Hospital Failings and A Warning from The Ombudsman