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'More should be done' to save sepsis patients

Significant failings in the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis cause 37,000 deaths each year, it has been revealed. 

Released by the Health Service Ombudsman, the report claims that not enough is being done to save the lives of sepsis patients. 

Ten cases were focused on by the ombudsman, with the patients ranging from eight to 80 years old. Tragically, all patients in the cases died. 

The most common causes of severe sepsis are pneumonia, bowel perforation, urinary infection and sever skin infection. 

Lack of timely examination, including adequate nurse triage on presentation was one of the most concerning shortcomings noted by Julie Mellor, the Health Service Ombudsman. 

She said: “We know it is not easy to spot the early signs of sepsis, but if we learn from these complaints and work to improve diagnosis and provide rapid treatment, then lives can be saved. 

“In the cases in our report, sadly, all patients died. In some of these cases, with better care and treatment, they may have survived. It is time for the NHS to act to save lives by improving the care of patients with sepsis.” 

Sepsis accounts for 100,000 hospital admissions each year, with an average cost of about £20,000 each, according to the UK Sepsis Trust. 

NHS England's Director of Patient Safety, Dr Mike Durkin, said: "We all need in every setting to understand the importance of identifying deterioration in both adults and children, in reducing the admission of full-term babies to neonatal care and identifying problems in vulnerable older people in the first 48 hours of acute illness. 

“By working with partner organisations, both within the NHS and the wider health community, NHS England will continue to give tackling sepsis the priority it deserves."

Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing chief executive said: “This report shows the tragic consequences of sepsis and raises an important issue for everyone in health care. It is vital that all staff are provided with training and support to enable them to recognise the signs and symptoms of sepsis, and crucially to know how to act quickly when sepsis is diagnosed.”