News and Notices

Infection control week: sepsis recognition

To acknowledge Infection Control Week (17-23 October), we have put together some key facts about sepsis.

Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection, most commonly arising from the chest, urinary tract and the abdominal organs.

Though it can affect people of any age, the elderly and the very young are most susceptible. Sepsis develops when the body’s response to infection starts to cause organ dysfunction. Without prompt, effective treatment it can cause death or long-term disability. Sepsis now claims more lives than lung cancer and has become the second biggest killer after cardiovascular disease. Over 70% of cases of sepsis arise in the community and in many cases, sepsis is both avoidable and treatable.

The following mnemonic summarises the common signs of sepsis:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine
  • Slurred speech
  • I feel like I might die”
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

Prevention is better than cure:

  • Meticulous handwashing reduces the chance of sepsis developing.
  • Ensuring patients are adequately hydrated and promoting effective management of incontinence could help reduce the incidence of UTIs
  • Early detection and treatment of UTIs is likely to reduce the risk of sepsis.