Experts suggest that the majority of patients with sepsis initially present with a respiratory infection, although abdominal or urinary-tract infections can also be primary causes of sepsis. Although this can make sepsis difficult to diagnose and treat at a time where a few hours really can make the difference between life and death, guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and a number of charities have sought to enhance public and clinician understanding of when symptoms may be more than ‘just’ an infection.

In recent years, medical staff have been able to rely on guidance issued by NICE, most recently updated in July 2016. These have placed emphasis on diagnosis based on an understanding that non-specific symptoms associated with abnormal observations, like blood results, temperature, pulse and breathing rates, can actually be the warning signs that something deadly is taking place and that urgent action is required. Charities such as the Sepsis Trust are also seeking to raise public understanding about when medical attention should be sought.

Despite official guidelines being in place for a number of years, a significant number of people continue to die from undiagnosed sepsis. Failure to diagnose sepsis and start an immediate treatment plan in a patient who may not appear too “unwell” can result in death and avoidable heartache and hardship for families.

We recently achieved settlement for a family following the death of their daughter who had presented to hospital with a background of infection and clear warning signs. Despite the seriousness of her condition sepsis was not diagnosed for five days, by which point it was too late to treat this aggressive condition. In an internal investigation, the hospital recognised that it had failed to diagnose sepsis, did not correctly apply guidelines and that its electronic observations system had become a “desktop tool rather than a bedside tool”. Despite these admissions the hospital denied that these failures led to death.  However, we instructed an independent medical expert who assisted us in successfully proving that earlier treatment would have avoided death. As a result of this incident the hospital has put in place measures to try and avoid similar deaths.

At Anthony Collins Solicitors we have acted for clients who have lost loved ones as a result of failures by medical staff to recognise the seriousness of their condition; something that could have been avoided if guidelines had been followed. We are also an official partner of the Sepsis Trust supporting their cause and various awareness programmes in the hope that this will continue to avoid injury and save lives. If you, or someone you know, would like to know more about the services we provide, and how we have successfully brought claims against hospitals and GPs in instances where there has been a delay in diagnosis of a medical condition causing an injury or a death, then please contact us.  We are happy to talk to you initially on a free, no-obligation basis.

For more information

If you require any further information, please contact Christopher Frankling or speak to any of our team.

Standard of proof in suicide cases
Standard of proof in suicide cases

A long-awaited decision of the Court of Appeal has clarified that a lower standard of proof should apply than previously thought before an Inquest can return a conclusion of suicide.

Managing absenteeism in education
Managing absenteeism in education

In a challenging economic climate with continuing budget cuts and increasing expectations of staff, sickness absence remains an ongoing problem that is important to address.

Contract management pitfalls
Contract management pitfalls

Social housing providers will routinely have a number of construction projects underway at any one time. It is essential for client teams to understand and avoid key contract management pitfalls.