'Silent killer' sepsis hits 400 a day: Number leaps more than 50% in five years with over-prescription of antibiotics by GPs blamed

Nearly 400 patients a day are being admitted to hospital with the 'silent killer' sepsis, new figures reveal. Numbers have surged by 50 per cent in five years, partly fuelled by the crisis in antibiotics resistance. The rise has also been blamed on more patients undergoing invasive surgery and other procedures which may do more harm than good.


Sepsis numbers have surged by 50 per cent in five years, partly fuelled by the crisis in antibiotics resistance (stock photo)

But experts say the Government and NHS have been 'too slow' to take urgent action to improve public awareness, diagnosis and treatment.

A damning report in January exposed how sepsis claimed the life of one-year-old William Mead after it was missed by staff operating the 111 helpline.

And a separate investigation this week revealed how a nine-year-old boy had died from the condition after being sent home by doctors with a 'mild chest infection.'

Sepsis occurs when the body's immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight an infection.

It is referred to as the 'silent killer' because without very rapid treatment it can lead to organ failure and death.

The condition can strike previously healthy patients of all ages, but is most common in young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with underlying illness.

Latest figures show there were 141,772 admissions for patients with sepsis recorded in 2014/15, a 54 per cent increase from the 91,881 recorded in 2010/11.

But in the East and West Midlands they have increased by 78 per cent over the same period, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Separate estimates show the condition claims 30,000 lives a year – more than breast and prostate cancer – but there are no exact figures.

Experts say the rise was down to a combination of reasons, including resistance to antibiotics, the aging population and more patients undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, which make them more susceptible.

But they have accused the Government of being 'slow to act' and failing to raise awareness amongst the public and NHS staff.

A scathing report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman two-and-a-half years ago called for urgent action over concerns that too many healthy patients were dying needlessly.

Heidi Alexander, Labour's shadow health secretary, said: 'These figures show why it is so important the Government takes action to improve the quality of sepsis care in the NHS.

'We have seen in recent months the tragic consequences of when the NHS fails to detect or treat sepsis in time.

'Ministers were warned back in 2013 that more needed to be done to improve awareness of sepsis and the quality of care patients receive, but progress has been slow.'

Julie Mellor, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, added: 'We are still seeing too many tragic cases of sepsis not being diagnosed or treated properly.

'That's why it's so important that action is taken to improve early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis by training staff, producing clear guidelines and raising public awareness of this deadly condition.'

Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the Sepsis Trust charity, said there needed to be a proper register of cases and survival rates.

'We need to be able to understand what's happening and compare organisations,' he said.

He said sometimes doctors were too 'invasive' by offering surgery to very elderly patients, which may trigger sepsis.

Dr Daniels, a consultant in critical care at the Heart of England NHS trust in the West Midlands, also said the rise may be partly due to the crisis in antibiotics resistance leading to more patients developing untreatable infections, triggering their immune systems to go into overdrive.

Dr Stephen Brett, president of the Intensive Care Society, said the warning signs of sepsis should be included in the National Curriculum and taught to children at school.

These include a high temperature, shivering and a rapid heartbeat and breathing.

He said: 'Personally I would like to see more done as by the time they get so sick they are in front of an intensive care consultant it's more of a challenge and for some it will definitely be too late.'


Source: MailOnline



'Silent killer' sepsis hits 400 a day: Number leaps more than 50% in five years with over-prescription of antibiotics by GPs blamed

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