New guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has been published urging medical staff to seriously consider sepsis early on when treating any patient displaying infection. In the UK, sepsis leads to 44,000 deaths a year but experts believe 5,000-13,000 of these could be avoided if the condition was diagnosed sooner.
Sepsis is known as a silent killer due to its difficultly in diagnosis because its initial symptoms are hard to differentiate from other conditions. Symptoms include low blood pressure, high temperature, shivering and rapid breathing. NICE acknowledges that sepsis is a complex medical problem but say that medical staff should take the time to consider sepsis for anyone suffering with an infection in the same way that medical staff consider the possibility of a heart attack when presented with a patient displaying chest pain.
Dr Maureen Baker, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "The diagnosis of sepsis is a huge worry for GPs, as initial symptoms can be similar to common viral illnesses, so we welcome any guidance or support to help us identify it as early as possible."The guidelines say patients with possible sepsis should be sent to hospital in an ambulance and treated urgently by senior staff.