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Doctors call for action on reducing sepsis deaths

A paper published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases today warns that clinicians and the public need greater awareness of sepsis to reduce the number of deaths from the condition

A seven-point call to action that includes a focus on training for front line staff has been published by doctors in a bid to curb the number of deaths from sepsis.

Sepsis - a severe infection that results in widespread inflammation, blood clotting and swelling - causes around 37,000 deaths annually in the UK. This is more than three times the number killed by breast or prostate cancer.

Although no specific cure for the condition exists, it can often be treated effectively with intensive medical care, including antibiotics and intravenous fluid, if identified early enough, according to a paper published this week in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The paper, authored by a cohort of international doctors, including Brighton and Sussex Medical School emeritus professor of infectious diseases Jonathan Cohen, calls for campaigns to improve awareness among clinicians and the public to ensure earlier diagnosis of the condition.

Professor Cohen said: ‘The number of people dying from sepsis every year - perhaps as many as six million worldwide - is shocking, yet research into new treatments for the condition seems to have stalled. Researchers, clinicians, and policymakers need to radically rethink the way we are researching and diagnosing this devastating condition.’

The authors also call for improved access to timely, aggressive and high-quality supportive care interventions. The paper, Sepsis: a roadmap for future research, adds that prompt provision of appropriate antibiotics is crucial, ideally within one hour of diagnosis of severe sepsis or septic shock.

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