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Sepsis needs to be treated “the same as heart attacks"

13 July 2016

Sepsis needs to be treated “the same as heart attacks"

The English health watchdog has announced that patients that have suspected sepsis must be treated with the same importance as those with heart attack symptoms.

National Institute of Health and Care Excellence guidance asks medical professionals to consider a sepsis diagnosis early when treating those with infections.

Sepsis kills up to 44,000 UK patients a year when 5,000 to 13,000 of those deaths could have been avoided.  

The main problem with spotting sepsis in time is the vague symptoms of rapid breathing or feeling generally unwell. This makes it hard for some medical professionals to diagnose a serious illness when all the symptoms don’t indicate to it.

The health watchdog says GPs, paramedics and hospital staff have an obligation to make sepsis the first consideration for anyone with an infection who is feeling unwell. The same way the medics would consider a chance of a heart attack connected with chest pain.

 Prof Mark Baker, from NICE, said: "The problem with those patients who died unnecessarily of sepsis is that staff did not think about it soon enough,

"It requires a depth of thought and experience and a way of examining patients which isn't always there - particularly because of time pressures and partly because we have got used to implementing guidelines without thinking."

Cornwall mother Melissa Mead, whose one-year-old son William died from sepsis in 2014 said, "This could not come any sooner. Sadly we have been touched in very real terms by sepsis and could not

Dr Maureen Baker, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "The diagnosis of sepsis is a huge worry for GPs, as initial symptoms can be similar to common viral illnesses, so we welcome any guidance or support to help us identify it as early as possible."

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS national director of patient safety, said: "Time and time again, and is some cases tragically too late, we see that some children could have received better care if healthcare providers worked with parents to understand and treat deterioration in health.

"There have been far too many cases covered in the media on the failure to treat sepsis that have highlighted the sad and frustrating instances of parents repeatedly flagging concerns about their children."

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