What is sepsis and which are the symptoms to look out for?

David Harding
NHS has issued new guidelines for treatment of sepsis (Rex)

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidelines for the treatment of sepsis.

It has said those at risk must receive intravenous fluids, antibiotics and be seen by a senior doctor in hospital after first displaying signs of the condition and within an hour.

This doubles down on previous advice which claims anyone with sepsis should be treated in the same fashion as those who suffered a life-threatening condition such as a heart attack.

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Every death from sepsis is a tragedy, yet too often the warning signs are missed.”

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition which arises when the body’s response to infection injures its own tissues and organs. Symptoms can include shock, fever or increased breathing and confusion.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Rex)

How common is it?

The UK Sepsis Trust calculates that there are 150,000 cases each year in this country, and 44,000 deaths. The trust says this is more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

What do the new guidelines say?

As well as making fluids and antibiotics available to sepsis sufferers, it also says that health professionals should record vital signs such as temperature, and check for rashes and skin discolouration.

How badly are the new guidelines needed?

A report in 2015 found that 40% of those admitted to A&E with sepsis did not have a timely review by a senior doctor.

Why is sepsis in the headlines?

The death of 12-month-old William mead in December 2014 made people aware of the disease. Doctors failed to spot symptoms and emergency call handlers did not give the proper response to his mother.