The World Health Organisations first Global Report on sepsis found that death from sepsis accounts for 20% of all deaths worldwide. Sepsis kills 11 million people each year. Here Johan Verbruggen outlines the symptoms, causes and treatment of sepsis and how we support patients and families who have suffered from sepsis infection.

What is Sepsis?


Sepsis is a systemic (whole-body) response to infection. The term derives from the Greek sėpsis, ‘putrefaction’ – decay or rotting.

Sepsis is defined by the Department of Health’s National Clinical Guideline on Management of Sepsis for Adults as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection.


Is Sepsis the same as Septicemia?


Sepsis is one stage in septicaemia. Septicaemia is the term for the physiological process. It can range from mild where the patient appears well at first, to overwhelming and life-threatening illness. Clinically, there are six distinct and progressively worsening stages of septicaemia:

  • Infection
  • Bacteraemia
  • Sepsis
  • Severe sepsis
  • Septic shock
  • Multiple organ failure/dysfunction


What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis?


A patient can appear clinically well in the early stages of sepsis. As sepsis progresses, a patient can exhibit symptoms such as hyperventilating, a fast heart rate, a high temperature, sweating and shaking (known as ‘rigors’).

Evolving sepsis is monitored by easily-measured changes in the body’s vital signs:

  • Respiratory rate
  • Oxygen saturation
  • Body temperature
  • Pulse
  • Blood pressure
  • Pain

What causes Sepsis?


Sepsis caused by an infection. Identifying the source of infection and where in the anatomy it is found to have originated can help the clinician in determining the type of bacterium or fungus responsible. For example:

  • Sepsis involving the respiratory tract is often caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae;
  • Sepsis involving the gall bladder or the bowel is often caused by Enterococcus faecalis, or by coli;
  • Sepsis involving the urinary tract is often caused by Escherichia coli;
  • Sepsis involving the pelvic organs is often caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
  • Sepsis involving the skin is often caused by Staphylococcus aureus;

Research has shown that in upwards of 30% of cases of patients hospitalised with sepsis, a definite microbiological source is not found.


What is Septic Shock?


Septic shock is defined in the Department of Health’s National Clinical Guideline on Sepsis Management for Adults as a subset of sepsis in which underlying circulatory and cellular/metabolic abnormalities are profound enough to substantially increase mortality.

In septic shock the patient is profoundly unwell; he or she has severe sepsis, together with frank organ failure and low blood pressure (hypotension). Septic shock is an emergency and it can progress rapidly to multiorgan failure, and death.


What is the Treatment for Sepsis Infection?


It is well established that early recognition and treatment of sepsis is crucial to halt its development. This involves:

  • Early identification of sepsis through careful monitoring of the patient’s vital signs, while searching for the likely source of infection
  • Timely treatment with an appropriate antibiotic or anti-fungal
  • Timely fluid resuscitation in severely ill patients


Supporting Patients and Families Following Sepsis Infection


We have successfully represented patients who have suffered long-term physical disability as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment of sepsis due to medical negligence. Unfortunately, we have represented families at court and at inquests, whose loved ones have died because sepsis was not detected and treated in time.

We act for patients where there is a delay in treating meningitis, infections and viral conditions.

What Are The Time Limits For Making A Sepsis Medical Negligence Claim?


You have two years from the date of you contracting sepsis, or the date that you discovered that the sepsis was caused or not treated properly, because of medical negligence, to start court proceedings, with some exceptions:

  • Where a child has been injured as a result of negligence, court proceedings can be commenced any time before their 20th birthday.
  • There are no time limits to make a claim on behalf of someone who lacks the mental capacity to take their own case.

While it may be the case that you have months or even years to commence court proceedings, it is strongly advised that you engage a solicitor to investigate injuries possibly caused surgical negligence as soon as possible. This will enable us to gather medical evidence such as hospital records and expert reports in support of your claim.


Why Choose Callan Tansey Solicitors LLP?


Callan Tansey Solicitors LLP was judged the best medical negligence law firm in the Ireland in 2021, winning the Irish Law Awards Medical Negligence Firm of the Year. With six offices across Ireland we are the best medical negligence lawyers near you.

We have 25 years of experience wining medical cases and successfully helping injured patients. We fight hard to get you clear answers as to whether or not you have been injured by medical negligence. We have acted in the highest courts across the country, we have built a team of compassionate, knowledgeable and fearless Solicitors. Taking a case can be intimidating and overwhelming. We will support and guide you every step of the way to get you answers and justice.


*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.


The above information is not healthcare advice. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own medical doctor. Always seek the advice of a doctor or medical professional if you have concerns about your health.