Sepsis: It’s a killer

Knowing about sepsis could save a life. Every hour five people are killed by sepsis in the UK.

Would you know the signs of sepsis if you saw them? Recognising the signs early enough could help save a life, but many people in the UK have never heard of sepsis and are unaware how serious it is.

Every year over 40,000 people are estimated to die from of sepsis, more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. In survivors, as many as 40% will live with long term physical and mental affects, including PTSD, chronic pain, fatigue, organ dysfunction and amputations.

What are the signs?

Seek medical help urgently either by calling 999 or going to A&E immediately if you spot the below signs:

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine (in a day)
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you’re going to die
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

Sepsis in children

For children under five, you should take immediate action by going to A&E immediately or calling 999 if your child:

  • Looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Is breathing very fast
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Has a fit or convulsion

For more information on spotting the signs of sepsis in children under five, see the below NHS video:

Just Ask: Could it be sepsis? – Stella's story

Sepsis is a very serious condition and kills thousands every year. Even for survivors, they can live with serious long term conditions.When Stella started feeling tired with a sore throat, she thought it was the flu. Very quickly the symptoms got worse. Find out more about Stella's experiences with sepsis below:

Further Information

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/sepsis or sepsistrust.org 

You can also download a leaflet and Poster from the Sepsis Trust by clicking on the links below. Please feel free to display these or share with friends, family and colleagues. 
Sepsis leaflet
Sepsis poster

Useful links for Healthcare Professionals

RCGP Sepsis Toolkit -  The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has produced a toolkit for GPs and healthcare professionals with tools, knowledge, and current guidance to support with the identification and management of sepsis.

Think Sepsis training programme - This online training programme is aimed at helping healthcare professionals to identify sepsis early.

GRASP-Fever - A tool that enables practices to review their clinical management of young children presenting with a fever.

Health Education England (HEE) resources - HEE has collated resources to help healthcare professionals in identifying sepsis, including a video on the common factors that delay or hinder sepsis diagnosis.

Sepsis Guidance for GPs - A guide produced by  RCGP and HEE which provides support on improving sepsis recognition within organisations and includes a number of case studies.