10 years of World Sepsis Day – here’s a reminder of what you need to know
According to the UK Sepsis Trust, every three seconds someone in the world dies of sepsis. 2021 is the 10th anniversary of World Sepsis Day and it is a great opportunity for us all to get involved in raising awareness of sepsis and ultimately saving lives.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to an infection starts to destroy the body itself.
Did you know?
- there are 47-50 million cases of sepsis per year worldwide;
- sepsis causes 11 million deaths per year; and
- up to 50% of survivors suffer from long term physical or psychological effects.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Early recognition and treatment of sepsis can save lives. According to the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE), symptoms that might indicate sepsis include:
- slurred speech or confusion
- blue, pale or blotchy skin
- a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it
- a raised heart rate
- a raised breathing rate
- not having passed urine.
If you have a suspected infection and are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should go to the emergency department immediately.
Our perspective on sepsis
At RWK Goodman, we support adults and children who have been affected by a delay in recognising and treating sepsis as they navigate the legal process of obtaining compensation.
My particular area of specialism involves representing children who have suffered from a brain injury either at birth or in their first few weeks of life. 40% of cases of sepsis involve children under five years old and I was reading a case study this morning about a little boy, let’s call him Billy, who suffered from sepsis leading to meningitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain).
Before Billy was born, Billy’s Mum was diagnosed as having an infection that was caused by bacteria called Group B Streptococcus. She had a raised temperature and heart rate but had not been given antibiotics.
Billy was born premature, at just 30+4 weeks gestation by an emergency caesarean section after showing distress in the womb for two days. Billy was not in a good condition when he was born; he had a very slow heart rate, was not crying and required resuscitation. Although he was given antibiotics after he was born, analysis of the fluid around Billy’s brain showed that the infection had already reached his brain.
Billy had scans of his brain every few days which showed damage to the white matter of his brain in a pattern of injury called periventricular leukomalacia or PVL. Damage to this area of the brain can cause disorders of movement or cerebral palsy. Billy is still too young to be certain of the long term consequences of sepsis but at his 15 month follow up, his motor development was 6 months behind what it should have been.
With greater awareness of infection and sepsis, Billy’s mum would have been treated with antibiotics and he would have been delivered sooner. The sepsis leading to meningitis and brain injury would then have been avoided or at least less severe.
How can I get involved in World Sepsis Day?
The World Sepsis Day website is packed full of ideas on how you and your family and friends can help to raise awareness of sepsis. Ideas include:
- Sharing one or more of their infographics on your social media mentioning @WorldSepsisDay;
- Tweeting about World Sepsis Day using the hashtag #WorldSepsisDay or #StopSepsis
- Setting up a sepsis information stall. The World Sepsis Day website provides access to toolkits such as fact sheets; posters; stickers etc. for you to use for your event.
- Taking part in the World Sepsis Day photo challenge by sharing a photo of you with a World Sepsis Day board which is available in the toolkits.
- Organising a pink picnic. Personally, I love this idea!
Let’s all work together and unite in the worldwide fight against sepsis!