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Deaths By Failure To Diagnose Sepsis Continue To Make Headlines

View profile for Sylvia Taylor
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Deaths from failure to diagnose sepsis continue to make headlines.  One of the main concerns appears to be the failure by the medical professional to recognise the symptoms.

Sepsis, also referred to as blood poisoning or septicaemia, can be triggered by an infection or injury.  If left untreated, it is a potentially life threatening condition.  It can be triggered by an infection in any part of the body.  The most common sites are the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.

Early symptoms of sepsis may include a high temperature, chills and shivering, rapid heart beat and rapid breathing.  The types of infection associated with sepsis include pneumonia, appendicitis, peritonitis, urinary tract infection and infections developing after surgery.

The persons most at risk of developing sepsis include those who have a medical condition that weakens their immune system, those who are receiving medical treatment such as chemotherapy or long term steroids and the very young or very old.  Patients in hospital are more likely to develop sepsis if they have recently undergone surgery, have had a urinary catheter fitted or have had a lengthy stay in hospital.

Sepsis can be diagnosed by taking the temperature, heart rate and breathing rate and can include a blood test.  If it is detected early, then it may be possible to treat the infection at home with antibiotics. Most people will make a full recovery.

Unfortunately, if there is a delay in diagnosing sepsis, the consequences can be fatal. Often the diagnosis is only made when the patient has gone into septic shock, which can result in multi organ failure.  If the patient survives, he/she may suffer permanent damage to the kidneys or heart.

The medical profession acknowledges that there is a problem identifying sepsis in the early stages. Screening tools have been developed to help identify the red flags for sepsis yet the red flag symptoms are repeatedly missed. We only see clients once it has gone wrong. In my cases if the symptoms had been recognised earlier the outcome often would have been different.