Tue 05 Sep 2023

World Sepsis Day - What is Sepsis?

13 September is World Sepsis Day. This annual event is intended to raise awareness and to raise funds for the research and treatment of sepsis. The initiative was first established in 2012 by the Global Sepsis Alliance, a non-profit charity whose goal is to reduce the worldwide burden of sepsis.


Shockingly, it is estimated that sepsis impacts as many as 50 million people each year and is responsible for at least 11 million deaths globally each year. Despite this, only 7-50% of people are aware of the condition so raising awareness is important as early detection is crucial for its successful treatment.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis, or as it is also known, septicaemia or blood poisoning, is a life-threatening reaction in the body. Sepsis occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to an infection from a foreign body. The immune system begins to damage the body's organs and tissues in an attempt to rid it of the infection. While some infections can be contagious, sepsis itself is cannot be passed from person to person. Most cases of sepsis are caused by bacterial infections in the lungs, urinary tract, skin, or the gastrointestinal tract. Almost any infection can lead to sepsis if not treated appropriately

Those most at risk of contracting sepsis include the very young and elderly, individuals with comprised immune systems, and those living with chronic diseases. Women who have just given birth, had a miscarriage, or had an abortion are also at risk of getting sepsis.

There are three stages to sepsis. The first stage is when an infection reaches the bloodstream, and this prompts an inflammation reaction in the body. The second stage, known as severe sepsis, occurs when the inflammation caused by the infection begins to impact on organ function. The third and final stage is known as septic shock. This occurs when blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level. This affects the way cells in the body work meaning blood doesn't reach vital organs. This can lead to organ failure, which is life-threatening.

Sepsis can present itself in a number of ways. A person with sepsis may present with any number of the following symptoms.

  • Fever
  • Sweaty skin
  • High heart rate or low blood pressure
  • Shivering or feeling cold
  • Confusion, disorientation, or slurred speech
  • Shortness of breath, or rapid breathing
  • Extreme pain and discomfort.

It is crucially important that sepsis be treated as quickly as possible, as sepsis can quickly develop into septic shock which is life-threatening. Whilst Sepsis can be treated with antibiotics, it is important that these are administered quickly after the onset of symptoms.

Recovery from sepsis can take a long time, with many people continuing to suffer from symptoms for many months or years. The long-term effects of sepsis are often referred to as post-sepsis syndrome. The symptoms can include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, weakened immune system, changes in mood, as well as anxiety and depression conditions.

World Sepsis Day

World Sepsis Day is an opportunity for worldwide fundraising to assist in the research and treatment of sepsis. It allows individuals to show support for those who have been affected by sepsis, both those who have lost loved ones to the condition and those who continue to live with the effects of post-sepsis syndrome which includes symptoms of clouded thinking, fatigue, anxiety and muscle weakness. The day is also intended to raise awareness for the many ways sepsis can be prevented. The most effective way to prevent sepsis is by preventing infection in the first place. This is done through vaccinations, access to clean water, good hand-hygiene, and safe childbirth.

Sepsis claim case study

At Morton Fraser, we have successfully recovered compensation for a number of individuals who have contracted sepsis as a result of medical negligence. Most recently, we represented a client in Court who had contracted sepsis following a catheterisation that had not been performed correctly.  Our client subsequently developed an infection in his urinary tract. This infection developed into sepsis, which was not identified for a number of weeks. The sepsis was eventually treated, and our client was able to make a  recovery albeit with long lasting consequences. We provided assistance in raising a personal injury claim against the Health Board who was responsible for his treatment. 

At Morton Fraser, we will ensure you receive the appropriate amount of compensation for your injury. Our experienced Personal Injury lawyers will take the time to assess your sepsis claim and help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today on 0131 247 1000 or through our personal injury compensation enquiry form.

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