14 Dec 2016
Negligence Claims Quadruple
Though still relatively small in number, claims relating to misdiagnosis of sepsis, (septicaemia) a potentially life-threatening condition, have quadrupled in the last five years, according to worrying new research.
The study, by Negligence Claimline, revealed not only that negligence cases were on the rise – from seven claims in 2011-12 to 27 in 2014/15 - costing more than £6 million, but that most people have very little understanding of what the condition is or how serious a diagnosis, let alone a misdiagnosis, can be. Sepsis is essentially blood poisoning triggered by an infection or injury. In sepsis, the body's immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight off foreign invaders which can reduce the blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys.
Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Officially the second biggest killer in the UK, behind coronary heart disease, some 37,000 people die from the condition each year. The research found that most people wrongly believe sepsis is less deadly than breast cancer, leukaemia, meningitis or pneumonia with only one in five of the individuals surveyed correctly able to rank it as the biggest killer. Only one in four of those questioned were able to identify three symptoms of the disease with many others assuming the symptoms were signs of a stroke and nothing else.
Sepsis is getting worse in the western world, with incidences doubling in some countries over the last decade and forecasts painting an even gloomier picture. As more and more antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread, infectious diseases are becoming easier to catch and harder to treat, making fast, early and accurate diagnoses more important than ever.