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Sepsis kills 37,000 lives every year in the UK and costs the NHS £2.5 billion a year. 

Sepsis arises when the body's immune system overreacts to an infection causing damage to internal organs leading to death if not recognised early and treated promptly. 

Early detection and timely management of the deteriorating patient (including sepsis) is one of the Trust’s Patient Safety priorities. 

Sepsis can result from any infection, the commonest being chest and urine infections. People of all ages can be affected but the most vulnerable are those:


  • at the extremes of life, eg premature babies and the frail elderly;
  • who are immuno-suppressed;
  • pregnant women;
  • with chronic illnesses, eg diabetes;
  • on long-term steroids or having cancer treatment. 

How to recognise possible sepsis? 

If a person has two or more of a very high (or very low) temperature, a rapid shallow breathing, or confusion then they may have sepsis. You should seek medical advise if you are concerned.

In the early stages, it is often difficult to distinguish sepsis from flu. However, if any of the feature above exist and the skin in cold, pale, or has developed strange colour or markings ('mottled'), the patient has lost consciousness or has not passed water for more than 18 hours, then the patient needs to be taken to hospital as soon as possible. 

If you suspect sepsis, try to ensure the patient receives urgent medical attention. Don't be afraid to say 'I think it might be sepsis'.

For further information, please visit the Sepsis Trust at:

What are we doing to protect you in hospital? 

At East Kent Hospitals, we have introduced a sepsis pathway to help staff recognise the signs of severe sepsis at an early stage. The pathway includes six specific nationally recommended interventions and a seventh regarding escalation to senior clinicians. 

The aim is to ensure rapid diagnosis of sepsis enabling delivery of antibiotics within an hour of arrival to more than 90% of patients. The graph below illustrates our progress towards this goal.

Graph - Percentage of patient receiving antibiotics within an hour of arriving in A&E
For further information please refer to the Trust's Sepsis: know the signs, and save a life leaflet.

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