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Sepsis compensation

100,000 people are admitted to hospital with sepsis each year and around 37,000 die from the condition. Sepsis or blood poisoning has three stages, progressing from mild to severe and ultimately septic shock (which can cause often irreparable damage to vital organs like the heart, lungs and liver).


Sepsis (also called septicemia) is a life-threatening condition which can be caused by peritonitis, urinary tract infections, meningitis, encephalitis or post-surgical infection. The elderly and very young are at greatest risk of septicemia, which if left untreated can lead to potentially lethal septic shock.

If sepsis is identified and treated in its mild stages, the individual has a far better chance of survival. The longer it is left undiagnosed or untreated, the greater the risk of organ damage or death from septic shock.

There are some people who are genetically predisposed to sepsis, but in the main patients with severe burns or open wounds that require surgery and those with cancer or underlying liver or kidney failure are at higher risk of septicemia.

Good surgical hygiene and the correct after care will reduce the risk of suffering septicemia. Tests for sepsis are easy to perform and simple steps such as quickly giving intravenous antibiotics and fluids reduce the risk of death by over one-third.

Maternal sepsis is a real problem for new mothers and is a major cause of death for women who have just given birth. If this condition is left untreated it can develop into septic shock in a matter of hours.

There are established guidelines called ‘Sepsis 6’ which dictate treatment for septicemia. If medical staff did not diagnose your condition or failed to follow the guidelines, and you suffered as a result, it may be possible to make a compensation claim.

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How do I make a claim about septicemia

This is specialist work. It is important that your chosen law firm has the legal expertise and the medical knowledge to understand and appreciate what evidence is required and to interpret that evidence when it is obtained.

Your lawyers must also have relationships with the appropriate medical and other experts who can assess your immediate health needs and the support you may urgently require. Their input will be absolutely crucial to your recovery and the success of your compensation claim.

You must be able to prove with the support of our expert lawyers that you received sub-standard treatment and we must be able to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that you suffered harm as a direct consequence of that sub-standard treatment.

Where a diagnosis of sepsis was delayed, either by your GP or hospital staff especially if you were known to be ‘at risk’, that delay could constitute negligence. In cases concerning a negligent failure to take the correct preventative measures or to follow the therapeutic treatments outlined in the ‘Sepsis Six’ guidelines in a timely manner (or not at all), we also have to prove that this lead to the condition which caused the harm you suffered.

If you feel you may have a case, call us as soon as possible for a free initial consultation. There are time limits to making a claim (three years usually). We can give you the benefit of our experience in such claims and an objective assessment of the likely success of your claim.

If I have a case about septicemia

As the claimant the onus will be on you, with our expert assistance, to prove your claim, but such proof need only be on balance of probability (i.e. a greater than 50% likelihood) that the failure of care was indeed responsible for the injuries you have suffered.

A medical negligence compensation claim is quite different to other types of personal injury action. The most important evidence to support your claim will come from independent medical experts whose opinions will be crucial. The choice of expert and the way their evidence is used can influence the amount of compensation you recover.

There are time limits within which you can claim so whatever your circumstances you should contact us as soon as is practicable. These can be complex, lengthy and demanding cases, and the first priority must always be your health.

The lawyers at Shoosmiths are medical negligence specialists and members of specialist panels of the Law Society or patient safety charity AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents). They understand and are able to interpret the medical evidence as well as the law and have the necessary experience and skills to handle your case.

More about septicemia claims

Septicemia is the body’s inflammatory response to bacteria that is invading the bloodstream. This response is exaggerated by a very weak immune system (or an over-zealous one in cases of maternal sepsis) and overwhelms the system, leading to organ failure.

There are a number of factors that can influence a new mother developing maternal sepsis, including Caesarean section and anaemia. However, the biggest risk factor for any victim of septicemia is late or missed diagnosis. Injury and death can be prevented by following the procedures given in the ‘Sepsis Six’ guidelines.

These were developed in 2006 and are endorsed by the UK Sepsis Trust, which suggests that 12,500 deaths could be prevented if they were universally adopted. The guidelines recommend three diagnostic and three therapeutic actions, all delivered within one hour of the initial diagnosis of sepsis.

These consist of administering high flow oxygen, taking blood cultures, giving broad spectrum antibiotics and intravenous fluids and accurately measuring hourly urine output. These simple, but effective, steps have been proven to reduce mortality and decrease the length of stay in hospital.

If your healthcare professional fails to diagnose septicemia or suspects that you may have sepsis but fails to test for it or implement the actions suggested in the ‘Sepsis Six’ guidelines, they will have failed in their duty of care to you and you may have a septicaemia compensation claim.

Fatal sepsis misdiagnosed as upset stomach

Fatal sepsis misdiagnosed as upset stomach


At the beginning of October 2011 an otherwise healthy 45 year old woman developed sickness and abdominal pain. She was not unduly concerned initially. However, within a few hours, the pain and sickness worsened.

She felt so poorly she attended her local hospital's Accident and Emergency department. She explained the symptoms to them and was sent home with a diagnosis of an upset stomach. But she didn’t get any better. Her vomiting got worse and the pain became unbearable.

Read more about how Shoosmiths were able to help with her medical negligence claim here.

Award mother died following negligent treatment knee infection

Mother of two died following negligent treatment of knee infection


Jane, a young mother of two, visited her GP complaining of a sore throat and high temperature. Her GP prescribed Ibuprofen. She subsequently developed severe pains in her right knee and was taken to hospital later the same evening.

At hospital, she was seen by a senior house officer. Blood tests and X-rays were requested and she was also reviewed by the orthopaedic team for the pain in her knee. She was told to continue using the Ibuprofen that her GP had prescribed and was then discharged in the early hours of the following morning.

However, she sadly died a few days later because of the negligent treatment of her knee infection. You can read more about how Shoosmiths were able to assist her family here.


Our Experts

'Shoosmiths got me the rehab I needed and really helped with my family. They were fantastic throughout.'

Nicola Cooper, who suffered a serious brain injury after a seemingly trivial car accident.

Septicemia or Sepsis Claims

Our specialist solicitors have many years of experience of representing clients in sepsis claims so don't hesitate contact us and we will advise you whether you have a case for compensation.

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