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Sepsis up by a third but experts say more data is needed

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Sir Brian said that staff shortages and overcrowding on wards are to blame for this dramatic increase

Patient safety expert, Sir Brian Jarman, has stated that sepsis deaths in England have increased by more than a third in the past 2 years. According to his data from the Dr Foster research unit at Imperial College, there were 15,722 sepsis deaths in hospitals or within 30 days of discharge in 2017. Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Sir Brian said that staff shortages and overcrowding on wards are to blame for this dramatic increase.

‘Some of those hospitals with a lower death rate have got particular ways of reducing mortality from septicaemia, which the others we hope might learn from, and also we hope that by giving them this alert, within a month or two of the actual happening, they can actually get in there and do something quickly,’ he said.

However the chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, Dr Ron Daniels, says more information is required to understand the increasing number of sepsis cases.

‘The success of awareness campaigns is now being felt, but there’s so much more to do. These new data demonstrate a worrying trend towards an increase in incidents of sepsis,’ said Dr Daniels.

‘Whilst the estimated numbers of people dying are conservative, we agree that the reported incidents of sepsis is rising by between 10-13 percent every year. This is part due to improvements in the way we record and code cases of sepsis but this doesn’t fully explain the increase.’

‘It’s likely that our ageing population, antibiotics resistance, and ever-increasing pressures on the NHS also carry some responsibility. Without properly collected prospective data it’s likely that we’ll never truly understand the magnitude of the problem.’

The NHS Improving Outcomes for Patients with Sepsis action plan from 2015 states that there are a total 37,000 deaths a year, however the UK Sepsis Trust claim that this number could be as high as 44,000.

Sepsis awareness has been increasing as both the NHS and the Sepsis Trust have made efforts to inform the public of its symptoms.

Stories in the media have aided this campaign – William Mead was 1 year old when he died from sepsis following a chest infection and now his mother now advocates for awareness, and Chloe Christopher, 17, died on New Year’s Eve in 2014 and her mother has since worked with the Welsh Ambulance Service creating informative videos on the signs of a sepsis infection.

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