Sepsis & infection negligence news

 

Sepsis - NHS guidance enforces one hour response time

The UK Sepsis Trust report that there are around 250,000 cases of sepsis a year in the UK and around 52,000 (around 20%) of those people die as a result.

NHS England has issued new guidance to NHS Trusts aimed at improving diagnosis times and commencement of treatment for patients arriving in accident and emergency departments with symptoms of sepsis. Under the new guidance, hospital staff must alert senior doctors if patients with suspected sepsis do not respond to treatment within an hour.

Sepsis – what is it?

The NHS website describes sepsis as “a serious complication of an infection” which without quick treatment can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

There are varying degrees of sepsis but, if left untreated, severe sepsis (affecting the organs or reducing the blood and oxygen supply to the tissues) and septic shock (in which the blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level) may develop. Both are medical emergencies.

How do you get sepsis?

Sepsis can arise from an infection in any part of the body; the most common sites of infection are the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.

Anyone can develop sepsis but if diagnosed at an early stage, it can be treated with antibiotics at home. In most cases, people generally go on to make a full recovery without lasting consequences.

Why is sepsis so dangerous?

Sepsis is difficult to diagnose. There isn’t any one investigation or obvious symptom for it, which means that signs can be missed and often treatment starts too late. Additionally, symptoms present differently in adults and children, which can cause confusion.

If left untreated, sepsis can progress into the vital organs which can result in organ failure. This is a medical emergency and can lead to serious consequences such as amputation or death.

How is sepsis treated?

Sepsis is usually treated by antibiotics. The type of antibiotic may vary depending on where the infection originated but they are generally of a high strength dose and administered intravenously. Treatment should be started promptly as every minute counts in stopping the spread of sepsis. Ideally, treatment should start within an hour of diagnosis/development of symptoms.

What is the NHS doing to reduce delays in treatment of sepsis?

Delays in diagnosis and treatment of sepsis should not happen, but unfortunately they do. 

The NHS recognises that delays in diagnosis and treatment of sepsis can have catastrophic consequences. Public awareness has also increased following recent media attention on the devastating injuries suffered by patients as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment of this dangerous condition. In response to these concerns, NHS England has issued new guidance requiring NHS Trusts to prioritise patients with suspected sepsis for diagnosis and treatment in one hour.

Meanwhile, some clinicians have expressed reservations about the consequences of the guidance, as they are concerned that the focus will be on meeting targets rather than improving service and that patients with suspected sepsis will be moved onto short-staffed acute medicine units rather than receiving proper diagnosis and treatment on accident and emergency wards. Against a background of stretched NHS resources, concerns have also been raised about the potentially poorer and slower treatment that other patients on A&E might receive.

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence team have helped secure compensation for many clients with devastating injuries arising from delayed diagnosis and treatment of sepsis. We welcome the new guidance and all genuine efforts to raise awareness within the NHS of the importance of early recognition and treatment of sepsis. We hope that by improving standards for diagnosis and treatment the number of lives affected by this dangerous condition will be greatly reduced. 

If you have suffered serious disability as a result of late diagnosis and treatment of sepsis and would like to find out more about making a claim, contact us by email at mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Jan's amputation story: Little victories; lots of frustrations

When 58-year-old nurse, Jan, went into hospital to have her colostomy reversed, she could never have imagined how much her life was about to change.

Jan had lived with the colostomy for a year after a bowel resection for diverticulitis and the reversal operation should have been the final stage towards recovery. She awoke after the surgery in excruciating pain and was given an epidural for pain relief. Over the next two days, her condition was allowed to deteriorate, developing into sepsis. She was treated with ineffective antibiotics and when she was finally taken back to the operating theatre, investigative surgery revealed a leak from her perforated bowel. Despite her continued post-operative deterioration, signs of sepsis and necrotising fasciitis were mistaken for post-surgical bruising and her ineffective antibiotic treatment regime continued.

A change of shift finally brought a nurse who had experience of nursing necrotising fasciitis. The nurse “smelled rotting flesh” and, recognising the signs, called the surgeon to review Jan’s condition. Jan was taken back to theatre for extensive debridement of her right flank, lower back and thigh. “It was huge,” says Jan, “like a shark bite,” and left deep scarring that she still finds upsetting whenever she looks in the mirror.

The infection raged on and Jan underwent multiple further debridement procedures. She became increasingly unwell with septic shock, ending up on the ITU suffering from multi-system organ failure, ischaemia, brachial thrombosis and extensive peripheral vascular compromise, causing gangrene in her hands and feet.

Jan has no recollection of these events throughout which she was semi-conscious from the strong pain medication. Jan’s first recollection is of waking up ten weeks after the original resection operation, completely unaware of her condition. “When I eventually came to, I remember looking at my hand. I couldn’t comprehend it at all.” She struggled to come to terms with the fact that she was potentially facing amputations. It was only months later, whilst sitting in a café with her daughter, that Jan asked to be told what had happened.

Jan was transferred to the Royal Free for the next stage of her treatment; “They did a skin graft on my thigh, removed my left hand and half my fingers [on the right hand], my toes on my left foot and half of my right foot. That was the most awful time for me, probably the worst time ever in my eleven months in hospital.”

Left in a closed room, isolated from the rest of the ward, with multiple recent amputations and the physical and emotional after-effects of her life-threatening illness, Jan received no counselling or psychological support. “I was very lonely. I was away from the nurses’ station and I was scared. I remember the physios trying to get me up walking. They took me down to the gym and I collapsed. I don’t think they believed how much pain I was in.”

The loss of the right leg came in stages. Initially, Jan had a mid-tarsal amputation leaving her with half a foot which never healed, despite five or six operations. 

“I was in so much pain from the sinus wound in the foot, especially when I had the dressings done. They gave me such strong painkillers that I was actually nodding off when I was eating. I remember the wound nurse from Hillingdon coming to see the wound on my foot and I said, ‘I’ve had enough. Let’s just take it off’. When I woke up after the below-knee amputation, it was fantastic. I didn’t have the pain. I was sore but I didn’t have the pain that I had before. When the physio came to see me and told me that he had come to help me with transferring to a wheelchair, I said, ‘What, like this?’ and I got up and did it. Little victories.”

Given her extensive disabilities, Jan understood that it was inevitable that she should lose her job as a nurse, but that didn’t make the news any easier to take. “I had been nursing since I was 17 and worked right up until the day before this all started. My manager and the HR came to see me while I was in hospital. That was very upsetting. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to work but when they actually came in to see me and told me…it was very upsetting.”

Going home was tough, bringing Jan face to face with the devastating impact that her sepsis, multiple amputations and consequent disability has had on her previously contented life.

“Three days before I came home the occupational therapist took me home [to see how she would cope]. I remember walking in there and looking at the pictures on the wall of our wedding two years earlier and bursting into tears.” Turning to her husband, Martin, Jan says; “Our relationship is very different. You’re still my husband but you are my carer.”

Ever-supportive, Martin, responds philosophically; “I’ve got another role as a carer and that takes precedence over all the other feelings. What’s happened has happened and we’ve just got to accept it.”

Martin was still working when Jan was discharged from hospital and in the absence of adequate provision for her safety and care, he did what he could to enable her to cope at home. “We had a big meeting towards the end of my time in hospital with the OT, the doctors and the physios,” recalls Jan, “They said I didn’t need a stair-lift. Apparently, you don’t need a stairlift if you can’t manage the stairs - you either have a room upstairs with everything in it or a commode downstairs.” Undeterred, Martin installed a stairlift before Jan came home. Without it, she wouldn’t have been able to cope. 

Martin also extended his daily routine to give him time to help Jan with her personal hygiene before he set off for work. Jan recalls; “I was given an ileostomy, which they tried to get me to manage. An ileostomy is not like a colostomy - it will work when it wants to work - so, all I remember about when I got home is being in the back bedroom, covered in pooh all around me, because it had leaked. Martin had to get up for work at half past two every morning, but he used to do me first before he went to work. Then the carer would come in later and it would be everywhere again. At first, they were giving me bed baths, but when I was able to move onto the commode, they would wheel me through into the bathroom and I would have to sit on the toilet to be washed. That was awful. I hated it. We had a bath but I couldn’t get into the bath. We had to fight with the council to have a walk-in shower put in.”

Given the almost complete loss of her hands and feet, Jan found the inadequacy of her NHS prosthetic provision, and the lack of compassion which accompanied it, particularly upsetting; “When we were at the Royal Free, the OT just handed me a catalogue of all the implements I could use without hands, and said, ‘All we will give you is cosmetic, you’ll get nothing else’. At Stanmore, the cosmetic arm they gave me fell off and the thing they gave me for my foot had a calliper on it. It was just awful.” Later, at the John Radcliffe, Oxford, she was offered a hook. “That was more of a hindrance than a help.” 

Jan and Martin are gradually adapting their lives and environment to meet Jan’s extensive needs. They have moved to a one-level home with a bigger bathroom and a walk-in shower, with further adaptations underway, but Jan has no intention of spending her days sitting waiting for Martin to come home.

 “At home I was very isolated. To begin with, I couldn’t drive, so I couldn’t go anywhere. I was housebound.” Jan is delighted that they have addressed the problem of her isolation with an adapted car which, at last, restores some of her independence. “I’m back driving, which is fantastic. My car’s been adapted. I use my left foot to drive with, so the accelerator is now on the left side. That took some getting used to. Martin can still use it because the left accelerator goes up and the right one comes down. It’s automatic and I have a ball on the steering wheel. I love driving, just my little dog, Molly, and me.”

For all Jan’s enthusiasm, Martin can’t help worrying; “I hate her driving. It’s good, but I still don’t like her driving.”

Having watched Jan’s struggles, it’s only natural that Martin worries, but Jan has learned to celebrate every little step towards her independence. Jan explains, “I would rather try and do things on my own, so I do, and he gets cross with me. I get very, very frustrated. We went out for a meal two weeks ago and I said to the waiter, ‘Would you ask the chef to cut my meat up for me please?’ The waiter asked whether that was all I wanted cut up, but I knew I could manage the rest. That was excellent.”

Little victories. Lots of frustrations. Little things we take for granted that Jan can no longer do.

“I still have tears, but the tears now are really frustration. It’s so hard. I was taking things out of the tumble dryer yesterday and trying to fold them up. I can just about manage to cook but I have to ask Martin to take things out of the oven for me. I can’t peel an apple…”

That’s no hardship,” Martin intervenes. He’s always happy to help.

“I know it’s no hardship to ask you,” says Jan, “but I’d rather do it myself.”

Jan would also rather do her own shopping; “I don’t like Martin going to do the shopping all the time. I like to go, but you’ve got to plan ahead all the time. I drive up to Tesco but it’s no good using my wheelchair because all I can do is put a basket on my lap and I can’t put much in there. So, I go in with my stick and ask for an electric wheelchair, but [when she last went] there were none left. So, I managed by pushing a trolley around. By the end of it they were very sweet. They could obviously see me struggling and they came over and offered me a staff member to push me around in a wheelchair and do my shopping with me, which was brilliant. When I went in again yesterday to do some shopping, they had got some new scooters.”

Jan approached Boyes Turner after her previous solicitors left it until a month before her limitation deadline expired to tell her they couldn’t pursue her claim. “I thought it was finished and I was broken hearted.” However, Boyes Turner were able to overcome these difficulties and obtained a substantial settlement for Jan, bringing to a satisfactory conclusion this highly complex and strongly contested claim.

With the legal case behind her and the security of knowing that she has financial provision for her needs now and in the future, we asked Jan to reflect on the claim; “The biggest relief is that it’s finished. There is no more fighting for anything. They still haven’t said, ‘Sorry, we made a mistake,’ but I suppose they don’t just write out a cheque without some acceptance that they were to blame.”

If you or a loved one have suffered or are expected to undergo amputation as a result of medical negligence and you would like to find out more about making a claim, contact us by email at claimsadvice@boyesturner.com.

Five child amputees who went on to become successful athletes

Losing a limb is a life changing occurrence. For many amputees, the ordinary activities of everyday life have to be re–thought and re–learned. Child amputees, in particular, require long term support to enable them to regain their confidence and mobility, and to adapt to life after amputation.

Artificial limbs or prosthetics can make a big difference. Finding the right prosthetic increases mobility and independence and, generally leads to a better quality of life. 

Appropriate prosthetic care can also help children get back to playing sports that they may have enjoyed before their amputation. Some go on to become athletes, inspiring others with similar injuries by the way they have overcome the limitations that are often associated with their disability. Here are five examples of child amputees who went on to accomplish remarkable things as athletes, with the help of prosthetics.

Jonnie Peacock

Jonnie Peacock is a 100 metre sprinter and won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. At the age of five, he contracted meningitis which attacked the tissues in his right leg and led to him being in an induced coma. His right leg had to be amputated below the knee.

He ran his first international race in May 2012 and set a new world record for an amputee in the 100 metres only a month later. He then competed in the Paralympics later that year and won gold, setting a new Paralympic record in the process. He then successfully defended his title in the 2016 Paralympics, winning gold again.

In this interview from 2016 he talks about some of the issues he has had with his prosthetic limb while training and how his prosthetist has made adjustments which have helped. This illustrates the importance of finding a prosthetist you trust and with whom you can communicate openly and honestly.

Richard Browne

One of Jonnie Peacock’s great rivals in the Paralympics is American sprinter, Richard Browne. Aged 16, a freak accident sent him through a plate glass window after slipping in the rain, which resulted in an arterial bleed. After 14 operations, his right leg had to be amputated below the knee.

In 2013, he broke Jonnie Peacock’s world record. He won gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 world championships and won silver at the 2012 Paralympics.

Aimee Mullins

Aimee Mullins is an American athlete, actress and model who was born with a medical condition that resulted in the amputation of both her lower legs when she was just a year old.

With the help of prosthetics, she did not allow her limb loss to stop her playing sports and competing against her able – bodied counterparts. After winning a scholarship to Georgetown University, she competed against able-bodied athletes in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division One track and field events, and is one of the first female amputees in history to compete in the NCAA. She was the first amputee in history (male or female) to compete in Division One NCAA track and field. She went on to compete in the 100 metre sprint and the long jump at the Paralympics in 1996. Since then, she has gone on to have successful careers in modelling and acting. She is currently in the new Netflix series, Stranger Things with Winona Ryder.

Jessica Long

Jessica Long is an American Paralympic swimmer. She was born in Siberia as Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova, before being adopted aged 13 months. Her lower legs were amputated as a result of fibular hemimelia when she was 18 months old. She was fitted with prosthetic limbs and soon began swimming in her grandparents’ pool.

She burst onto the international stage in 2004, winning three gold medals at the Paralympics in Athens. She was aged only 12 at the time. She now has 23 Paralympic medals and has held five world records.

Kelly Cartwright

Kelly Cartwright is an Australian athlete, competing in the 100 metres and long jump. When she was fifteen, she had a form of cancer called synovial sarcoma. Part of her right leg had to be amputated due to the cancer and she started using a prosthetic leg while in high school.

She competed at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics. In 2012, she won a gold medal in the long jump and a silver medal in the 100 metres. She also set a world record in the 100 metres while winning the world championships in 2011.

In 2009, she accomplished the remarkable feat of climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

It takes time and courage to come to terms with amputation. Childhood amputation, in particular, affects the whole family. For many, the emotional and physical healing process also requires professional help.

Where the amputation was caused by negligence or an accident that was someone else’s fault, our amputation experts are on hand to advise and may be able to secure financial compensation for prosthetics and other specialist equipment and vehicles and for necessary adaptations to the family home. In the absence of a claim or if you’re just looking for amputation-related information and friendly support, Limbcare are a great charity who can provide support and information needed to help amputees and their families. Many of their volunteers are amputees, so have gone through the journey themselves. 

If you or a family member has suffered an amputation after an accident we may be able to help. Get in touch with a member of our experienced personal injury claims team to discuss making a claim by emailing them at piclaims@boyesturner.com.

Awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis

According to The UK Sepsis Trust, every year 52,000 people in the UK die from Sepsis. Those that survive this aggressive infection/illness, can be left with very severe injuries and complications.

Boyes Turner solicitors are medical negligence specialists with experience dealing with cases relating to the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis. We have helped many clients and bereaved families who have been affected by life-changing or fatal sepsis obtain compensation for their injuries, including amputations.

Sepsis in the news

The signs and symptoms of sepsis have been regularly highlighted in the news and in social media in recent months and years.

A few years ago, the film Starfish (2016) brought the story of Tom Ray to the screen. Tom rapidly developed the infection and deteriorated over a day. The illness caused him to go into a coma. Although Tom recovered from the potentially life-threatening illness, as a result of it, he required quadruple amputations and facial amputations. Tom’s story highlighted the signs and symptoms of sepsis and the importance of acting quickly to treat it.

Earlier this year, Coronation Street’s Jack Webster developed sepsis after cutting his knee playing football. The storyline raised further awareness of the signs of sepsis in children.

Melissa Mead has campaigned to raise awareness of sepsis following the devastating loss of her 12 month old son, William, in December 2014. William developed sepsis following a chest infection. Melissa is an ambassador for The UK Sepsis Trust and was recently awarded an MBE for her campaign work.

The UK Sepsis Trust have recently announced their partnership with Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation. As part of this, in the future we will be seeing information about sepsis, and how to spot it, on the side of milk cartons sold in Iceland stores. Founder and CEO of The UK Sepsis Trust, Dr Ron Daniels BEM regularly highlights the signs and symptoms of sepsis in both adults and children on social media.

As sepsis claims specialists, the Boyes Turner team see first-hand the life-altering effects sepsis can have and what happens when there is a delay in treatment and we support the efforts of all who are raising awareness of the importance of recognising the signs early so that appropriate treatment can be given.

What are the signs and symptoms of sepsis in children?

Identifying the signs and symptoms in children can be difficult, particularly in young children who may not be able to talk and explain how they are feeling. It is important to be aware of the following signs:

  • fast breathing;
  • fitting or convulsions;
  • mottled, bluish or pale appearance;
  • a rash that does not fade when pressed;
  • lethargy/difficult to wake;
  • abnormally cold to touch.

In children under 5, it is also important to be aware if a child is not feeding, is vomiting repeatedly or has not passed urine or had a wet nappy for 12 hours.

What are the signs and symptoms of sepsis in adults?

The UK Sepsis Trust has provided the following guidance on the signs and symptoms of sepsis:

  • 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 is mottled or discoloured.

Failure to recognise the signs of sepsis and provide appropriate and timely treatment can be fatal. If you have lost a loved one and have concerns that there may have been a delay in diagnosing and treating sepsis, we can discuss your concerns further and what may be achieved by pursuing a claim.

As solicitors who regularly work alongside families who have lost loved ones, we know that whilst bringing a legal claim cannot change what has happened, it may be a way to obtain information about the treatment the loved one received. And in certain cases, we can help with the inquest process. Where dependent family members have been left without a parent or spouse, compensation can be used to meet ongoing childcare costs, compensate for financial losses and help provide for the future of the family.

MBRRACE - Sepsis and maternal deaths

The recent report, Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care, from UK maternity services watchdog MBRRACE, found that in 2013-2015, 41% of the women who died during pregnancy, childbirth or postnatally, might have had better outcomes with improved care.

Whilst the number of deaths from indirect causes of maternal sepsis had decreased overall – an improvement they attribute in part to raised awareness of the condition resulting from the campaigning work of organisations such as the UK Sepsis Trust - 24 of the reviewed maternal deaths between 2013 and 2015 had sepsis as their primary infective cause. Nearly half of these were directly caused by sepsis and four arose from urinary tract sepsis or wound infection after caesarean section.

The report referred to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new international definition of maternal sepsis for 2017, which describes maternal sepsis as "a life threatening condition defined as organ dysfunction resulting from infection during pregnancy, childbirth, post-abortion or post-partum period."

Multiple opportunities are being missed at all stages

It went on to make specific recommendations for prevention and treatment of sepsis in maternity services, many of which reflected the panel’s identification of a recurrent, dominant theme that multiple opportunities are being missed at all stages of pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth and postpartum to anticipate and take steps to reduce the patient’s risk.

With this in mind, recommendations were made for high level action to ensure that it is seen as the responsibility of all health professionals to facilitate opportunistic counselling and advice. Preventative measures should include increasing uptake of the flu jab, as influenza is a known cause of maternal sepsis-related death. In the recognition that women might be put off by having to attend yet another appointment, the report recommended that as pregnant women attend maternity services during pregnancy, funding should be made available for the delivery of influenza immunisation in maternity services as part of their antenatal care, rather than as a separate appointment in primary care.

Recommendations for the recognition and prevention of postpartum sepsis included the somewhat obvious instruction to community midwives to have a thermometer with them when they carry out home visits so that they can check the temperature of postpartum women who are unwell. The panel regarded having the ability to check the postpartum mother’s temperature as a minimum requirement, along with checking blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate. They recommended that the new NICE Guidelines (not due for publication until 2020) should make this guidance clear.

In addition, health professionals were reminded to check the unwell woman’s overall clinical condition rather than relying solely on her MEOWS score which tracks changes over time in observations such as temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. This is another recurrent theme, echoing the findings of the RCOG’s Each Baby Counts report which reminded maternity healthcare providers that accidents (and claims) could be avoided if they would assess the patient taking into account the full clinical picture rather than just looking at the CTG.

Following a reminder that the key actions for diagnosis and sepsis are:

  • Timely recognition
  • Fast administration of intravenous antibiotics
  • Quick involvement of experts with senior review noted as essential

…other recommendations included "declaring sepsis" – by invoking a protocol to ensure that all relevant members of the multidisciplinary team are informed, aware and act upon a potential diagnosis of sepsis, again drawing on the importance of escalation and communication between the various disciplines of health professionals who together are responsible for the woman’s care.

Multiple presentations by the woman, even in different settings (eg at the GPs surgery, then at A&E) should be seen as a "red flag" warning, requiring careful review and escalation to senior clinicians.

The panel emphasised that chronic illness and immunosuppression are in themselves risk factors for sepsis. Women with chronic illness, such as diabetes or sickle cell trait which put them at increased risk of infection should, therefore, have a lower threshold for admission to hospital, antibiotic administration and input from senior clinicians.

"Critical care is a management modality not a place."

In the event of a shortage of ITU or HDU beds, the report reminds healthcare providers that "critical care is a management modality not a place" If a woman is ill enough to need intensive care, she also needs close observation and support whilst awaiting transfer to ITU. The requisite level of care should be provided wherever the woman is located and not delayed whilst waiting for a critical care unit bed.

Whilst the significant reduction in maternal deaths from sepsis between 2010-2012 and 2013-2015 is a welcome demonstration of the value of the awareness raising work of the UK Sepsis Trust, there is much work still to do if the government is to meet its target of halving the number of maternal deaths overall by 2030.

Anticipating and reducing risk, adopting responsibility, communication and timely escalation emerge as the essential learning points for health practitioners, especially in times of high activity in maternity and A&E units.

If a family member or friend has died due to medical negligence and has left behind dependant children we may be able to help. Contact us on 0800 884 0718 or email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com for a free initial discussion.

World Sepsis Day

World Sepsis Day is held annually on 13 September in order to increase awareness of this condition which accounts for at least 8 million deaths worldwide per year.  Despite the widespread media coverage, statistics show that as few as 7% of people are aware of sepsis in some countries. With early recognition and treatment, mortality can be reduced by 50%, so raising awareness of sepsis could prevent many needless deaths worldwide.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is the body’s response to overwhelming and life-threatening infection and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In other words, it’s the body’s over-active and toxic response to an infection. The immune system usually works to fight any germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites) to prevent infection. However, for reasons medics don’t quite understand, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the “invaders,” and begins to turn on itself. This is the start of sepsis.

People who are at high risk of contracting an infection (such as the very young, the very old, those with chronic illnesses and those with an impaired immune system) are at higher risk of developing sepsis. For more sepsis definitions click here.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

  • patches of discoloured skin
  • decreased urination
  • changes in mental ability
  • low platelet (blood clotting cells) count
  • problems breathing
  • abnormal heart functions
  • chills due to fall in body temperature
  • unconsciousness

Sepsis can be diagnosed at an early stage with basic tests such as temperature, breathing rate and heart rate. The longer sepsis is allowed to attack the body, the higher the chance of a serious injury or fatal consequences.

The UK Sepsis Trust work continually to raise awareness of sepsis and to improve guidance so that the number of avoidable deaths and other life changing effects, such as limb amputation, can be reduced. As part of our commitment to reduce and alleviate the impact of sepsis, Boyes Turner are supporting the UK Sepsis Trust in raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease and the importance of urgent medical treatment. Our hope is that together we can help bring an end to the suffering caused by this devastating disease.

Boyes Turner’s specialist medical negligence team have dealt with numerous cases where delayed treatment or misdiagnosis of sepsis has led to life changing consequences. Click here to read how we have helped families investigate their concerns about injuries caused by negligent medical treatment of sepsis.

Starfish: an "ordinary" life turned upside down

Starfish is a heart-breaking story of a man who had to undergo life-saving, but hugely invasive surgeries after contacting sepsis.

The film is based on the true story of Tom Ray, a man from Rutland in the East Midlands who had to have all four of his limbs amputated and part of his face removed after contracting sepsis shortly before the birth of his second child. Tom survives the ordeal but the film shows the difficulties he and his wife Nicola live through following the amputation.

Tom believed his severe stomach pains were due to out of date sausages. But when Tom’s condition worsened, he was taken to hospital. When Tom reached hospital, doctors did not diagnose the life-threatening condition, sepsis in a timely manner. Drastic surgery was advised in the hope of saving Tom’s life, and a distraught Nicola had to consent to the surgery to amputate all four of Tom’s limbs and most of his lower face.

Starfish realistically portrays the impact of Tom’s amputations, with the real Tom Ray providing a body double for the film. The film highlights the physical struggles Tom experiences, but also the psychological consequences, care needs and financial difficulties of not being able to work. Tom did not receive any kind of insurance payment for his injuries. The family had to turn charitable fundraising to pay for prosthetic limbs.

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence solicitor, Sita Soni says about the film, “Starfish depicts the emotional journey of Tom and Nicole’s personal struggles after Tom’s battle with sepsis. It does not shy away from the life changing impact of amputations and the support that is needed for the amputee and the family as a whole. From my experience with sepsis and amputation medical negligence cases, the impact of this silent killer is devastating especially when injuries could have been avoided with an early diagnosis and treatment, as Starfish shows. Having the right support and rehabilitation in place is crucial.”

Starfish - Sepsis film, Boyes Turner Sepsis Claims Lawyers

Why is this film important?

Approximately 44,000 people die of sepsis every year in the UK, that is a higher mortality rate than from heart attacks and some common cancers. Early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis is vital to saving lives and avoiding life changing injuries such as amputation. Recent studies indicate that as many as 14,000 lives could be saved by better medical care.

Simple steps, such as giving intravenous antibiotics and fluids in the first hour of attending hospital can reduce the risk of death by sepsis by over one-third.

This release of Starfish has coincided with the UK Sepsis Trust’s (UKST) fight against sepsis and awareness campaigns to help prevent future tragedies.  Boyes Turner have joined UKST, along with Tom Ray and his wife Nicole to campaign for better sepsis care, raise sepsis awareness and support the families affected by sepsis.

One of the aims of the UKST is to empower individuals feeling unwell to question, “could this be sepsis?” and seek early medical advice. For more information of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, click here.

Starfish can save lives. We urge you to see Starfish and help raise sepsis awareness.

Our specialist solicitors have many years of experience of representing clients in sepsis and amputation claims.

We understand the impact sepsis can have on individuals and their families. Compensation can help with rehabilitation for sepsis survivors and financial worries for those that are bereaved as a result of sepsis.

Starfish, an inspiring story brought to film - released on 28 Oct 2016

Starfish, an inspirational story of love, strength and determination following Tom Ray’s battle with sepsis, is due to be released in cinemas this week.  The film, starring Joanne Froggatt and Tom Riley, will be released in cinemas across the country including Reading’s Showcase cinema.

Starfish - Sepsis film, Boyes Turner Sepsis Claims Lawyers

Starfish, the film

“The true and incredibly moving story of Tom and Nicola Ray (Tom Riley, Joanne Froggatt), whose love is tested to the limit when their perfect life falls apart.

When Tom puts his small daughter to bed one chilly December evening, he has everything he could ever want – the house of his dreams, the life of a writer, a beautiful wife and a second baby on the way, By the next morning, all of this is in jeopardy as Tom succumbs to the devastating illness that is sepsis.

As Tom and Nic battle to hold their family and their marriage together, the strength of their relationship is the only thing that can save them.”

Tom Ray

Tom’s devastating battle with sepsis required amputation of all four limbs and a partial face amputation to save his life. Starfish openly reveals Tom’s struggle with his new disabilities and the strain on his marriage and ability to care for his children.

Tom Ray and his wife Nicole are campaigning with the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) for greater awareness of the risks of sepsis with the aim that the number of fatalities and life changing injuries will be reduced with early diagnosis and treatment. One of the aims of the UKST is to empower individuals feeling unwell to question, “could this be sepsis?” and seek early medical advice. For more information of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, click here.

This film can save lives. We urge you to see Starfish and help raise sepsis awareness. For more information about the film, click here.

Boyes Turner partners with UK Sepsis Trust

Last week, Boyes Turner screened exclusive clips of Starfish with UKST. The screening, which took place at Boyes Turner’s office, was an inspirational evening with presentations from the UKST, Pippa Cross (producer of Starfish), and Terence Canning who tragically lost his brother to sepsis four years ago.

The screening was attended by Boyes Turner clients, barristers, rehabilitation organisations and charities.

The strength and determination from the UKST and those that have a devastating connection to sepsis to raise awareness and talk about their experiences was powerful and very moving. Ruth Meyer, a partner at law firm Boyes Turner said about the event, “the speakers were inspirational and together with the film made me realise how much just one moment in time can have such a devastating impact.”

Support for the film and UKST

Dr Ron Daniels BEM, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust and global sepsis expert, said It’s exciting to bring together UKST supporters and the Starfish team to celebrate the progress we can make by bringing this extraordinary film to as many audiences as possible. Together we can save thousands of lives every year if we ‘Just ASK: could it be sepsis?'”

Julie Marsh, solicitor at Boyes Turner said “Despite seeing the clip for the second time, none of the raw emotional power was lost.  Now I just can’t wait to see the whole film next week.  An honour to meet Terence Canning and talk about how sepsis touched him and his family so tragically, and his campaign to raise awareness of sepsis all over the country.”

Vitek Frenkel of Frenkels said “it was a very moving and informative evening. The clips brought home how quickly sepsis can strike and how devastating it can be. I commend the UKST for all their efforts to bring about awareness of sepsis and how simple questions at the right time could save many lives.”

Sita Soni, solicitor at Boyes Turner, said “Starfish shows just how suddenly sepsis can develop with life changing consequences when it isn’t treated quickly.  It was a honour to host this screening and we are proud to be involved with the UKST helping them in the fight against sepsis.”

The UK Sepsis Trust feature film starfish

Starfish - Surviving Sepsis

Tonight Julie Marsh, Sita Soni, Laxmi Patel and Ruth Meyer from Boyes Turner Solicitors will be attending a UK Sepsis Trust screening of the trailer of the new feature film “Starfish” which tells the incredible story of Tom Ray’s battle with sepsis.

The film tells the story of Tom and Nicola Ray, whose life changed beyond all recognition in 1999, when 38 year old Tom contracted septicaemia.

As a result of the infection, Tom had to have both legs and arms amputated and part of his face removed.

At the time of Tom’s illness, he had a two year old daughter, Grace, and his wife was nine months pregnant.  As a result of Tom’s illness, his wife had to give birth to their son while Tom was in a coma on the other side of the hospital, fighting for his life.

Tom’s symptoms started when he has violent stomach pains which he puts down to a couple of out of date sausages he had eaten.  Even when he reached hospital, doctors were slow to diagnose the life threatening blood disease.

Tom’s wife Nicola was faced with the decision to permit surgeons to amputate all four of Tom’s limbs, and most of his lower face, in an effort to save him.

Starfish is based on interviews with Tom and Nicola, and diaries that Tom kept at the time.

The couple have both been involved in the production of the film, Tom actually trained as an actor and very much wanted to be part of the acting world.

The team are very much looking forward to seeing the trailer of the film, and meeting with people from The UK Sepsis Trust.

World Sepsis Day 2016 - 13 September

The purpose of World Sepsis Day 2016 is to increase awareness of this life changing condition.

Sepsis, also known as septicaemia, blood poisoning or septic shock, causes the body’s immune system to go into overdrive as it tries to fight an infection and can result in the immune system damaging tissues and organs. In serious cases, sepsis can cause a drop in blood pressure, multiple organ failure, kill the body’s tissues and in extreme cases, septic shock can be fatal.

Sepsis claims more lives than any cancer

In fact, every three to four seconds someone dies of sepsis – we must keep this deadly condition in the spotlight. 

Sepsis is a treatable condition with a timely diagnosis and urgent medical treatment.

So why do we only too often hear about its devastating impact? Worryingly, the UK Sepsis Trust reports 44,000 deaths a year from sepsis.

Sepsis is often diagnosed at an early stage based on simple measurements such as temperature, heart rate and breathing rate. However, sometimes these signs are missed or misdiagnosed. Occasionally there signs are more indicative of sepsis such as dizziness, confusion, diarrhoea, vomiting, reduced urine output which are still missed or not treated urgently.

The longer sepsis has to attack the body, the higher the chance of serious injury or fatal consequences.

We have dealt with numerous cases where misdiagnosis or delayed treatment of sepsis had devastating consequences. Click here to read how we have helped families investigate their concerns about sepsis medical negligence.

World Sepsis Day 2016

The UK Sepsis Trust have worked tirelessly to campaign for better awareness of sepsis and sepsis guidance to reduce the number of avoidable deaths and other life changing effects such as amputation. The publication of sepsis guidelines on 13 July 2016 highlighted the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis. The moving video posted from Melissa Mead, William Mead’s mother, on social media has also powerfully highlighted why the fight against sepsis is vital. William sadly died from sepsis a few days after his first birthday.

Medical staff must now routinely consider – “is this sepsis?”  This requires training and better awareness of the urgency of sepsis treatment.  Likewise patients are urgent to think and ask their doctors – “could it be sepsis?”

Sepsis negligence claims solicitor, Sita Soni said:

“Days such as World Sepsis day and other national campaigns are vital to raise awareness of sepsis, keeping it in the spotlight in the public eye and for medical professionals.  We’re helping charities such as the UK Sepsis Trust raise awareness and support families who have been tragically affected by sepsis.  Sadly William Mead’s story isn’t a one-off, but we hope that awareness campaigns and new guidelines prevent future tragedies.”

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