Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections

Sepsis is a common life-threatening condition that is thought to affect at least 120,000 people every year in the UK, claiming approximately 37,000 lives.

Sepsis is a severe reaction to an infection, where the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, causing inflammation across the body. This can reduce the blood supply to vital organs such as the heart, brain and kidneys. Unless prompt treatment is received, this can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

What Causes Sepsis?

Sepsis can be caused by a wide variety of other infections such as:

  • pneumonia
  • appendicitis
  • urinary tract infection
  • an infection of the gallbladder
  • infections after surgery
  • infections of the brain and nervous system
  • infections of the bone
  • infections of the heart

People in hospital are particularly susceptible to sepsis as they are more likely to have weakened immune systems. Infants and the elderly are also particularly at risk, as are pregnant women.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that can affect the bladder, the kidneys and the tubes connected to them. They are more likely to affect women than men.

The symptoms of a Lower Urinary Tract Infection affecting the bladder and urethra can include:

  • a need to pee more often than usual
  • pain or discomfort when peeing
  • sudden urges to pee
  • feeling as though you’re unable to empty your bladder fully
  • pain low down in your tummy
  • urine that’s cloudy, foul-smelling or contains blood
  • feeling generally unwell, achy and tired

The symptoms of an Upper Urinary Tract Infection affecting the kidneys and ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder) can cause the above symptoms as well as:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4ºF) or above
  • pain in the sides or back
  • shivering and chills
  • feeling and being sick
  • confusion
  • agitation or restlessness

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections can be quickly and successfully treated with a short course of antibiotics, usually clearing up after a few days.

However, if left untreated, UTIs can spread, causing further pain and illness. It can also cause sepsis.

Urinary Tract Infections and Sepsis

A Urinary Tract Infection can cause sepsis when the bacteria in the urinary tract travel to the bloodstream and spread across the body. The immune system then tries to fight the infection, but this leads to inflammation and clotting throughout the body. When this happens a patient is said to have sepsis. Unless this is treated promptly, septic shock will set in and the patient could die.

Signs of Sepsis

Early signs that a patient is developing sepsis include the following:

  • accelerated heartbeat
  • accelerated breathing
  • chills
  • high temperature

Untreated, the effects will develop rapidly, causing nausea, diarrhoea, breathlessness, vomiting, loss of consciousness and multiple-organ failure.

Treating Sepsis

Sepsis is a fast-moving infection and early diagnosis and treatment are vital.

Therefore, as soon as sepsis is suspected, a patient should be started on broad-spectrum antibiotics. Once the underlying cause is identified, this also needs to be treated. A patient with sepsis will also need oxygen and intravenous fluids.

If sepsis is not diagnosed or treated urgently, it can lead to multiple-organ failure within a matter of hours. If a patient survives, they will normally remain in a critical condition for some time. For most, however, a delay in treatment will prove fatal.

If you or a loved one has suffered from the effects of sepsis as a result of a medical practitioner’s failure to diagnose or treat your illness, you may be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence.

Speak to a solicitor today

To speak to a solicitor about making a Sepsis claim, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors. We offer friendly legal advice completely free of charge. This will give you the chance to discuss your options with a lawyer, helping you decide what action to take next.

Making an Enquiry

Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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