The death of such young people from sepsis is desperately sad and it is concerning that there still seems to be a gap in learning how to identify and treat sepsis with the urgency it requires.
Simon Smith died from sepsis after his symptoms were missed by hospital staff causing a delay in administering antibiotics.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) which issues guidelines for medical staff has produced recommendations to try to improve standards of care in this area. They advise that people with suspected sepsis should be assessed using a structured set of observations to identify those at risk.
If a person with suspected sepsis is in hospital and is classified as being at high risk of severe illness or death, they should be given the first dose of intravenous antibiotics and be reviewed by a senior clinical decision-maker within one hour. If their circulation is affected, they should be given intravenous fluids within one hour ; and in both cases they should be seen by a consultant if their condition fails to respond within one hour of initial treatment.
All of this is commendable, but it must be communicated to staff and it is dependent on staff suspecting sepsis in the first place. Too often we see the diagnosis being made too late, by which time the body’s response to the overwhelming infection has taken over
This comes after the number of deaths in hospitals has increased by more than a third in two years.
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