Sepsis, accounts for 44,000 deaths in the UK every year. It is so critical that patients with sepsis receive immediate treatment that the NHS have set targets to be able to recognise and treat Sepsis within one hour. Sadly, many NHS Trusts are failing to meet these targets and it is this delay in response which can be held accountable, in part, for the shocking fatality rates.
Sepsis kills more people than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. Every year, 150,000 people in the UK develop sepsis and costs the NHS £2.93 billion a year.
Survivors are often left with life changing disabilities, such as amputated limbs. Even though it is more common than heart attacks, less is known about the disease - few recognise the symptoms and doctors struggle to diagnose it.
Sepsis occurs as the body's immune system overreacts to an infection; resulting in widespread inflammation, swelling and blood clots throughout the body. This leads the body to go into septic shock, characterised by a dramatic decrease in blood pressure, ultimately interrupting the blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys.
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Sepsis needs to be treated quickly and aggressively in hospital and is sadly often responsible for amputations, brain damage and deaths. Recent NHS data shows that of the 44,000 deaths each year, 14,000 were preventable. Moreover, figures from 104 trusts show that only 78% of eligible patients are being screened and 63% are getting antibiotics within the critical one hour. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the NHS must do "more to do" to stop "preventable" sepsis deaths occurring.
Sepsis is the most common pathway to death in the world according to the World Health Organisation, despite being highly preventable. Doctors across the globe are urged to take preventative measures and treat suspected cases of sepsis within an hour in attempt to prevent unnecessary deaths. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines state that Sepsis - a life-threatening complication of other infections - should be dealt with as an emergency just like a heart attack.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
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