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Posted 13 July 2016
by Endurance Arthur

NICE Publishes Welcome Guidelines on Sepsis

Sepsis, or septicaemia, is commonly known as blood poisoning.  It occurs when the body overreacts to a simple infection setting off a cascade of events which leads to attack its own tissues and organs.  When it is not recognised early and treated promptly it can lead to septic shock, and long term damage such as multiple organ failure and death.

In November 2015, the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) reported that there are as many as 200,000 cases of sepsis a year in the UK, and up to 60,000 deaths.  To put this into context sepsis kills more people than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined in the UK.  Experts say simple improvements could be made across the NHS to help prevent sepsis deaths.

NICE Guidance

As the early diagnosis of sepsis (critical to the outcome of the disease) has been a major problem for the NHS, it is a welcome development that the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has intervened to assist. In a report published on 13 July 2016, NICE has called for health professionals to think about the possibility of sepsis in all patients who may have an infection.  It has also produced guidance including a checklist of signs and symptoms and details on what to do next if Sepsis is suspected.

GPs are urged to treat suspected sepsis as an emergency in the same way that they would a suspected heart attack.  They are told to send any patient who might have sepsis to hospital in an ambulance. Once in hospital they should be seen by a senior doctor or nurse immediately who can start treatment.

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About the author

Endurance Arthur

Partner and Solicitor

Partner and solicitor in the medical negligence department and a member of the Law Society's Clinical Negligence Panel