Sepsis Awareness Month – find out about the medical condition which causes the deaths of over 250,000 Americans each year.

Sepsis Awareness
Sepsis Awareness
September is, as you may know, Sepsis Awareness Month. I try to highlight the condition each year as it is nearly two years since my father in law nearly died from it.

The Sepsis Alliance in the UK are marking the month by an extensive awareness camplaign with some great food for thought!

“How can a small dog’s nip on the hand or a bug bite result in a battle to stay alive? How does someone go from the happiest day of her life, delivering her child, to being in an intensive care unit on a ventilator – with her family not knowing if she will live or die? How can someone who successfully undergoes a bone marrow transplant to beat cancer die because he got an infection?

These people all had something in common: they developed sepsis, an illness that fewer than half of Americans have ever heard of, yet every two minutes, another person in the country dies of it.

Sepsis is expensive for its victims and for society. It costs more than $17 billion per year to treat sepsis in hospitals in the U.S. The burden in lost income and expenses after initial sepsis treatment isn’t known.

Financial issues post sepsis can range from the inability to continue working in previous jobs to needing long-term care. Cost to the government and tax-payers? Fifty-eight percent of sepsis admissions had Medicare as the primary payer versus 36% for other hospitalizations.”

To find out more about signs, symptoms and treatments for sepsis check out our blog post here.

World Sepsis Day is Saturday 13th September. Find out about the signs and symptoms of blood poisoning and how people are planning to mark the day!

World Sepsis Day 2014
World Sepsis Day 2014
It is now about twelve months since my father in law nearly dies from blood poisoning due to a botched operation.

I blogged about it at the time here in a post entitled “Sepsis, Scepticemia and Blood Poisoning. Find out about the signs and symptoms of blood poisoning.”

So you can imagine I’m very keen to show my support for Saturday’s World Sepsis Day.

There are loads of different ways the day is being marked by I rather like it that A sepsis survivor, Ian Hillier, 42, from Syston, is helping Leicester’s Hospitals mark World Sepsis Day by releasing 200 balloons at 12pm on Friday September 12 at Leicester Royal Infirmary. Which is in fact the day before!

The 200 balloons represent the number of lives in Leicester that could be saved if sepsis is detected early and properly managed. Which show the extent of the issue in the UK.

The condition, which kills more people than breast cancer in the UK, occurs when an infection starts to overwhelm the body, leading to impaired function of key body organs such as the kidneys, lungs and heart. Early symptoms of sepsis can appear benign, such as flu like illness or a pulled muscle.

Ian, who will be joined by his wife and daughter, said: “I was diagnosed with sepsis in June which had started with what I thought was a pulled muscle in my arm.

“Thanks to the early intervention of my GP and staff at the Royal, it was quickly diagnosed – before it was too late – and the treatment I received during my stay at the Royal saved my life.”

He added: “I’m delighted to have been asked to release these balloons – it’s important we continue to fight this disease which can affect any of us at any time.”

John Ashworth MP, Leicester South, is backing the balloon launch. He said: “As sepsis is estimated to cause 37,000 deaths a year, the work of Leicester’s Hospitals in increasing the recognition and treatment of patients with sepsis is vital.”

Leicester’s Hospitals has introduced a number of initiatives to improve the treatment of patients with sepsis, including training nearly one hundred members of staff to be ‘sepsis champions’.

John Parker, consultant anaesthetist at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “Our champions will actively promote prompt recognition and treatment of sepsis and ensure it is regarded by all as a medical emergency.

“Treatment within one hour of diagnosis is vital, so clinical staff will also have access to special ‘sepsis 6 boxes’, which we have developed. They contain life saving antibiotics, intravenous fluids and blood culture bottles.”

The newly introduced initiatives have already seen significant improvements in sepsis treatment at Leicester’s Hospitals. In 2013, 27% of patients received intravenous antibiotics within one hour of developing severe sepsis. For the year so far, this figure has risen to 50%.

World Sepsis Day takes place on Saturday 13 September 2014. For more information visit:

Please feel free to share what you are doing to mark World Sepsis Day in the comments section below.

Sepsis, Scepticemia and Blood Poisoning. Find out about the signs and symptoms of blood poisoning.

Before starting on the main purpose of this blog I should explain the reason for writing it in the first place.  My father had serious complications from what should have been a very straight forward removal of a tumour from his colon via keyhole surgery.

In another blog I’ll walk you through the whole story because it offers a number of very useful lessons for us all about the problematic nature of surgery and post-operative care.  One, of many complications, was an infection which returned him to hospital.  more on than off, for two months.

Blood poisoning
Blood poisoning

In a previous life as a researcher I’d done some work with infection, in particular, sepsis so I felt that a short blog outlining some of the signs and symptoms of blood poisoning would be of value.  It is worth noting that septecemia is one of the most common causes of death in the USA.  One source suggests between 1-2% of deaths are caused by it.   In the UK the NHS claims sepsis cases are responsible for 30,000 lives each year.

As a point of information there is a slight difference between sepsis and septicaemia though most people use the words interchangeably.  Sepsis is when the infection of the blood is bacterial in origin while septicaemia also includes infections which are fungal and viral in nature.

By way of shorthand I will use sepsis (as opposed to other names and spelling) for the rest of this blog post.  The definition of sepsis is fairly straightforward.  It is blooding poisoning which occurs when our bodies over react to an infection.  This in turn can lead to blood clotting and inflammation.

Sepsis comes in three stages with differing degrees of the severity of the symptoms.  Please note that severe sepsis and above are very serious and if you think you have either you should attend an Emergency Room/A&E as soon as possible.

People with mild sepsis typically present the following symptoms:-

  • Fever and often delirium.
  • Increased breathing rate.
  • Palpitations.

With severe sepsis symptoms can include:-

  • Low blood pressure
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Pale and “clammy skin”
  • Bowel disorders such as diarrhoea

The final stage is septic shock when the body’s organs are at risk due to low oxygen levels.

For mild sepsis treatments will typically involve antibiotics.  However for severe sepsis and septic shock a patient will need to go to intensive care so that they can be monitored at all times.  In some cases treatments in an ICU will involve blood transfusions and anti-viral medications.

The causes of sepsis are as varied as the causes of infections themselves.  But flu, appendicitis, post-surgery and meningitis have all been cited as common reasons for developing sepsis.

The above is, of course, a simple over view of the condition.   Given the impact of infections on my families’ life over the last few months I’d love to find out a bit more about the experiences of others who have had sepsis.  It would be great if you could share your sepsis story in the comments box below.  In you could think in terms of the following questions that would be great:-

  1. What type of sepsis did you suffer from?
  2. What was the cause of the sepsis?
  3. How was it treated?
  4. How long did it take you to recover?
  5. What one piece of advice would you give to somebody who has just been diagnosed with sepsis?

I look forward to reading your comments.  Thanks very much in advance!