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Septicemia is the body’s inflammatory response to bacteria that is invading the bloodstream. This response is exaggerated by a very weak immune system (or an over-zealous one in cases of maternal sepsis) and overwhelms the system, leading to organ failure.
There are a number of factors that can influence a new mother developing maternal sepsis, including Caesarean section and anaemia. However, the biggest risk factor for any victim of septicemia is late or missed diagnosis. Injury and death can be prevented by following the procedures given in the ‘Sepsis Six’ guidelines.
These were developed in 2006 and are endorsed by the UK Sepsis Trust, which suggests that 12,500 deaths could be prevented if they were universally adopted. The guidelines recommend three diagnostic and three therapeutic actions, all delivered within one hour of the initial diagnosis of sepsis.
These consist of administering high flow oxygen, taking blood cultures, giving broad spectrum antibiotics and intravenous fluids and accurately measuring hourly urine output. These simple, but effective, steps have been proven to reduce mortality and decrease the length of stay in hospital.
If your healthcare professional fails to diagnose septicemia or suspects that you may have sepsis but fails to test for it or implement the actions suggested in the ‘Sepsis Six’ guidelines, they will have failed in their duty of care to you and you may have a septicaemia compensation claim.