Recording Sepsis incidences better in the UK could save lives and money

Sepsis is the body’s reaction to an infection and is life-threatening because the body attacks its own organs and tissue.

If you ask about the UK statistics on Sepsis with regard to the effect, prevention, treatment, costs and causes, you would do well to visit the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) published documents for established and accepted UK data because little is recorded on this.

The statistics most commonly quoted today are estimated at 250,000 people being affected by Sepsis on an annual basis of which 44,000 die. This is because Sepsis may be attributed to other conditions such as Pneumonia, impaired kidney function etc. and therefore often leads to lack of recording Sepsis as a reason for mortality and this distorts the reality of the severity of the impact of Sepsis. These figures are quite alarming, but not really surprising given that we do not currently have a Sepsis registry, and many incidences of Sepsis are easily masked by the under-reporting. Earlier recognition and treatment could save more than 14,000 lives annually. Of the surviving people, it is believed that 44,000 suffer permanently with life changing after-effects.

A report, this year, following a new independent study commissioned by the UKST was carried out by the York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) and was titled ‘The Cost of Sepsis Care in the UK’.

The aim of the report was to highlight the considerable costs associated with Sepsis in the UK to reveal a better estimate of the cost of Sepsis to the UK economy and a better estimate of the incidence of cases of Sepsis annually. The estimated annual cost of Sepsis to the UK economy prior to the study had been estimated to be £2.5 billion but the study established that it is more likely to be £15.6 billion. By improving the Sepsis care across the NHS this figure could be reduced by as much as £2.8 billion.

Statistics for the UK in 2013 – 2014 recorded incidences of Sepsis as 123,000 (this data was taken from Hospital Episode statistics). Figures of recent years estimated the incidence to be 150,000 but after the report was published in February this year, using data drawn directly from government data, it was accepted that the UK sees at least 260,000 cases of Sepsis annually.

The report highlighted its limitations due to the inadequacies of recorded data of incidence, care pathways and associated costs, particularly as Sepsis has a significant economic and human cost. It concludes that the costs of Sepsis care are significant, both direct costs (to the NHS such as ICU treatment, non-ICU patients, neonates and other children, on-going cost of post Sepsis complication care costs such as worsened physical function, wound problems, amputation, depression etc.) and indirect costs (productivity costs in hospital by lost productivity while hospitalised, and lost productivity due to mortality, and not forgetting cost of litigation). The report states that improvements in care that could reduce the incidence of Sepsis or mortality associated with Sepsis could result in significant cost-savings as well as obvious quality of life benefits.

Due to data gaps, a number of assumptions had to be made to complete the report. The costs estimated for direct costs are believed to be underestimated and although it was recognised that some costs may be over estimated such as lost productivity for informal carers, or for follow-up treatment, it is thought that it is unlikely.

A few things were clear, better quality data and more accurately recorded incidence rates would enable crucial analyses and the development of targeted plans to improve Sepsis care throughout the NHS. The report recommends that new practices for coding Sepsis should be adopted by NHS trusts across the UK and rolled out to the rest of the UK. Furthermore, it supports the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s calls of the Department of Health or NHS England to create a disease registry for Sepsis to capture key information about Sepsis patients.

UK Sepsis Trust recognised that their estimates to date have been conservative. Dr Ron Daniels, BEM, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust commented that “… the figures reported in YHEC’s study are a shocking new indication of the gravity and sheer scale of the problem.  … A precise understanding of how the NHS handles Sepsis is urgently required to prevent avoidable deaths, improve outcomes for survivors and save billions of pounds for the UK as a whole”.

If you or a loved one have been affected by Sepsis as a result of missed or delayed diagnosis of Sepsis and would like to discuss the possibility of bringing a Clinical Negligence Compensation Claim, please contact our team of expert Clinical Negligence Lawyers for a FREE, confidential no-obligation chat on 0808 164 0808 or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.