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Failure to diagnose sepsis &
sepsis misdiagnosis claims

Failure to diagnose sepsis & sepsis misdiagnosis claims

How much can you claim?

Despite complaining of abdominal pain after an operation, doctors failed to diagnose sepsis in a 61 year old woman. Her kidneys were severely damaged, significantly shortening her life expectancy. She was awarded:


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Making a claim for sepsis

Medical negligence whilst uncommon can have a big impact on your life and wellbeing.

Sepsis is a serious complication of an infection that can prove fatal and have long-term implications if the symptoms are not quickly recognised as being caused by sepsis. Delayed treatment and misdiagnosis in sepsis cases can have serious impact,  at the very least cause patients unnecessary stress, pain and suffering and in the most serious of cases it can mean amputation, organ failure, or even death.

If you believe that you or a family member did not receive the appropriate level of care, leading to avoidable  harm you may be able to claim sepsis misdiagnosis compensation. Having suffered already, making the decision to begin a compensation claim can be difficult. A medical negligence investigation  can help  you to understand what happened and by bringing it to the attention of the Hospital or Hospital Trust may prevent it happening again to anyone else.

Your Legal Friend is experienced in resolving many different types of clinical negligence cases and could support you or your family member too. Our specialist team of medical negligence lawyers can work for  you right from the beginning of the process to ensure that a proper investigation is done.

Knowing that you have suffered due to medical negligence can leave you feeling vulnerable and searching for answers. While no amount of compensation can eliminate the stress and changes being misdiagnosed or inadequately treated has caused, it can ensure they you understand what has happened and secure you financial support for additional treatment or specialist equipment that may be needed.

Reaching out to talk to someone about your injury and claiming compensation can be a difficult step to take but seeking legal advice can lift some of the weight off your shoulders. Your Legal Friend will be able to guide you every step of the way, offering you advice and support as your case progresses.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The time limit on making a sepsis claim

If you want to take forward a sepsis misdiagnosis malpractice claim, you have three years in which to act from the ‘date of knowledge’.

While this legal term can be confusing, it simply means from the date that you first became aware you had suffered an injury as a result of  medical negligence. In some cases, this can be simple to pinpoint but in others, particularly those where misdiagnosis has occurred, it can be more complicated. If you’re unsure exactly how long you have to take action, our team of professional, experienced solicitors are on hand to help. Using their knowledge, they’ll help you unravel the facts of your case to identify your ‘date of knowledge’.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

While three years is the maximum time to take a case forward, it’s advisable that you do so sooner. To support your case, we’ll gather evidence, including witness statements, medical records, and medical expert reports, in many instances, these are easier to obtain closer to date of the medical negligence.

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of medical negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E. Swaffield

Our sepsis claims experience

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of misdiagnosis cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a sepsis case.

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our medical misdiagnosis team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value sepsis cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006. Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan
Director of Medical Negligence

*Our No Win, No Fee agreement

Pay nothing if you lose your case, get maximum compensation if you win

Whatever the nature of your sepsis claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard medical misdiagnosis claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

No Win, No Fee Solicitors

Start your claim in 10 minutes

For a FREE, confidential, no-obligation assessment of your claim, simply complete this short form. We aim to call you back within 10 minutes.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The sepsis claims process

Step 1 - Obtaining your medical records

We ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any hospitals that have treated you.

Step 2 - Providing your statement of what happened

As the medical experts we instruct need to know what happened during your treatment, we work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words.

Step 3 - Minimising your loss

You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged medical negligence, so you need to attend any available treatments that could aid your recovery.  You may also need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Step 4 - Establishing that a breach of duty occurred

You must prove that the treatment you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist of the type who treated you and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury.  To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in the appropriate area of medicine.

Step 5 - Establishing the effect of the breach of duty

We have to establish whether the sub-standard treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss. As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see one or more medical experts who will assess your current condition and what the future holds for you.

Step 6 - Calculating the value of your claim

The value of your claim comprises:

  • general damages for the pain, suffering and impact of the negligence on your daily life both now and in the future
  • actual financial losses such as loss of earnings, cost of care, medical and travel expenses.

Step 7 - Proving your loss

You need to keep all original financial documents safe as these will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court. These documents include accounts, payslips, and receipts for expenses and medical treatments.

Step 8 - Preparing your case for Court

Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality.

Step 9 - Attending the trial in Court

The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence we have prepared.

Step 10 - Awarding your compensation claim

If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant or, if your case goes to trial, by the judge. The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case. We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation as quickly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

Can I claim for a sepsis misdiagnosis?

If you believe you or a family member were not treated adequately when in hospital suffering a delay in diagnosis of  sepsis you may be able to make a claim for medical negligence. Sepsis misdiagnosis claims must show that both medical negligence occurred and it resulted in an avoidable injury.

  • Missed diagnosis

If you attended a doctor’s appointment or visited a hospital presenting the signs of sepsis you have the right to expect that medical professionals will deal with you appropriately  and this can include ordering the necessary tests to give an accurate diagnosis. Sepsis misdiagnosis compensation claims will arise if the  level of care you received was below  an acceptable standard, leading to missed diagnosis.

  • Incorrect treatment after diagnosis

Fast and efficient treatment is key to treating sepsis.  If you’ve received delayed or ineffective treatment following a diagnosis or treatment was not given quickly enough despite the severity of your case, you may have a clinical negligence claim that could result in compensation.

How much compensation will I get?

Misdiagnosed sepsis cases are all unique and this is reflected in the amount of compensation that each patient receives. As a result, it’s impossible to say just how much misdiagnosis of sepsis compensation you could receive without first taking the time to understand your individual case.

We’ll take the time to fully listen to your experiences, allowing us to place a  value on your claim that reflects how you’ve been affected. We take a wide variety of areas into consideration when creating your misdiagnosis of sepsis claim value, from the impact on your long-term health to loss of earnings you may have experienced.

How long do I have to make a claim?

If you would like to make a sepsis misdiagnosis lawsuit having experienced medical negligence, you must act within three years. After this time limit you will not be able to hold those responsible to account for the suffering you experienced.

The start of this timeframe is from the ‘date of knowledge’ rather than when you first sought medical help. This means that you have three years from when you first realised that mistakes had been made in your level of care. Often in sepsis cases, the condition develops quickly but it can still be confusing when you’re trying to pinpoint exactly when the ‘date of knowledge’ happened. If you’re unsure but would like to claim for sepsis misdiagnosis, our team of experts can help you. Using our experience of supporting those affected by medical negligence we’ll help you understand exactly how long you have to act.

While you do have up to three years to make sepsis misdiagnosis claims, we advise our clients to act as soon as possible. This not only helps you to move forward quicker but it can support case , such as gathering witness statements and evidence, too.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a rare but very serious complication of an infection. It requires quick treatment and can cause multiple organ failure and death where this isn’t delivered swiftly.

Over 100,000 people are infected by sepsis every year in the UK. It’s a life-threatening illness that can be triggered by an infection anywhere in the body.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

What causes sepsis?

Sepsis is caused by an infection in the body. Usually your body’s immune system will effectively fight an infection but if it’s already weakened or an infection is severe it can spread through the blood to other parts of the body. In response, the immune system can go into overdrive, with inflammation affecting the entire body that can damage tissue and interfere with blood flow. This affect can lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure, preventing oxygen from travelling around the body as normal.

An infection in any part of the body can trigger sepsis but it’s most commonly caused by infections that start in the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen, and pelvis.

While anyone can be affected by sepsis there are certain factors that can increase you risk, including:

  • Recently having surgery
  • Immune weakening conditions, such as HIV or leukaemia
  • Having treatment that weakens the immune systems, including chemotherapy and long-term steroids
  • Age – being very young or very old can increase your risk
  • Pregnancy
  • Receiving wounds or injuries through an accident
  • Having drips or catheters attached to the skin
  • Being on mechanical ventilation
  • Long term health conditions, including diabetes

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

There are lots of symptoms of sepsis but the early signs can be missed by individuals who don’t know what they are looking for. The early symptoms of sepsis may include:

  • A high temperature
  • Chills and shivering
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing

If the condition remains untreated it can develop into more severe sepsis or septic shock, when the blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level. In serious cases symptoms can include:

  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • A change of mental state, such as confusion or disorientation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe breathlessness
  • Less urine production than normal
  • Cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
  • Loss of consciousness

Individuals should seek medical advice if they’ve recently experienced an infection or injury and are showing the early signs of sepsis. If the serious symptoms of sepsis are present it should be treated as a medical emergency.

Due to the early warning signs of sepsis being relatively mild and mimicking other, less serious, conditions, it is possible for GP misdiagnosis sepsis to occur. Sepsis misdiagnosis stories highlight just how serve the consequences of delayed diagnosis can be, with some instances proving fatal for the patient involved.

How is sepsis diagnosed?

Initially, sepsis is often diagnosed based on simple measurements, such as temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate, as well as the symptoms you are presenting. A blood test can also be used to identify blood poisoning and signal that treatment is needed.

Once you’ve been diagnosed other tests are typically conducted. These tests aim to determine the type of infection, where it is located, and how it has affected your body’s functions, allowing treatment to be tailored to your condition. Tests that may be conducted include:

  • Urine or stool sampled
  • A wound culture
  • Respiratory secretion testing
  • Blood pressure tests
  • X-ray or CT scan

A delay in sepsis diagnosis can have a significant impact on the outlook of treatment. As a result, a quick diagnosis process and healthcare professionals that pick up on the signs of sepsis can have a big impact on prognosis.

How is sepsis treated?

If sepsis is caught during the early stages, it is relatively easy to treat. If you are showing signs of sepsis you will usually be referred to a hospital for diagnosis and treatment to begin.

Treatment involves taking antibiotics, giving fluids intravenously and giving oxygen if levels are low. Due to the serious nature of sepsis treatment should begin within an hour of diagnosis to limit the possibility of the infection worsening. Medical professionals should also undertake tests to assess the severity of sepsis and identify the type of bacteria causing the condition.

If you’re experiencing severe sepsis or develop septic shock, emergency hospital treatment will be needed and, in some cases, you could require admission to an intensive care unit.

Due to the problems severe sepsis can cause with vital organs, those experiencing the condition are likely to become very ill and it can prove fatal. However, it is treatable and in the majority of cases the signs are identified quickly and patients go on to make a full recovery with no long-term problems. Where late sepsis diagnosis has occurred, it can mean the likelihood of complications occurring are more likely, with patients taking longer to recover and potentially learning to live with life changing consequences.

How can sepsis be misdiagnosed?

Sepsis is most commonly misdiagnosed through the symptoms either being misinterpreted or the severity of the signs not being fully assessed. When you visit your doctor or a hospital with concerns you should be able to rely on those responsible for your care to take the necessary steps to achieve an accurate diagnosis.

If, for example, tests to diagnose sepsis were not conducted despite you presenting the symptoms of the condition, you may be able to take forward a misdiagnosed sepsis lawsuit. You will need to prove that a medical professional missed an opportunity to diagnose you for a doctor misdiagnosed sepsis claim to be successful.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

What conditions can sepsis be misdiagnosed as?

The symptoms of sepsis can often be mistaken for other conditions, some of which may not require urgent treatment and leading to a delay in vital treatment being delivered. Wrong diagnosis sepsis can have a detrimental effect on the impact that treatment will have once delivered.

Conditions that sepsis may be misdiagnosed as include:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Acute appendicitis
  • Iron poisoning
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Muscle strain

What are the complications of misdiagnosed sepsis?

Failure to diagnose sepsis can have life changing consequences.

While in the majority of cases the signs of sepsis and blood infections are spotted quickly, where this doesn’t occur it can prove fatal. A delay in diagnosis of sepsis can also result in treatment being significantly setback, meaning that patients may be left dealing with lifelong conditions associated with misdiagnosed sepsis, including:

  • Amputation

Sepsis causes your body’s blood clotting mechanism to go into overdrive, potentially causing blockages inside the blood vessels. This means that oxygen and vital nutrients may not be able to get to some areas of the body, leading to tissue dying. When undiagnosed sepsis is allowed to continue developing conditions such as gangrene can also emerge, leading to the need for amputations. In some cases, this will mean losing fingers or toes but it can mean patients need a limb amputating in order to save their life, significantly impacting on their future.

  • Permanent organ damage

Sepsis can lead to serious organ failure if not caught quickly and even when treated it can mean living with life changing conditions. For patients affected by wrong sepsis diagnosis, this means the need to adapt their lifestyle to cope with the long-term implications. For example, sepsis can lead to kidney failure requiring lifelong dialysis treatment.

How often is sepsis misdiagnosed?

There aren’t any official sepsis misdiagnosis statistics but a study has shown that poor levels of NHS care are contributing to the startling high fatalities that occur from sepsis.

The research from 2013, which looked at the effects of delayed treatment, found that almost 13,000 patients die needlessly every year from severe infections. Missed sepsis diagnosis and delays in treatment being delivered meant that opportunities to save lives were being missed, the study concluded. Problems that were highlighted included lack of early diagnosis, failure to recognise severity, delays in treatment, and delay in the control of the infection. Patients that have encountered these problems when suffering from an infection may be able to make a failure to diagnose claim to reflect how they have been let down by the healthcare system.

Case studies of misdiagnosis of sepsis have been the news, demonstrating the impact medical negligence can have when it comes to blood poisoning. Sepsis misdiagnosis cases include:

  • A mother securing compensation after misdiagnosis led to her being placed on life support following deadly blood poisoning spreading to her heart, lungs and brain.
  • A man being misdiagnosed with the flu when he had sepsis, the delay in treatment led to him being hospitalised for three months.
  • A death of a pensioner was labelled as avoidable after experiencing systemic sepsis that was not treated effectively.
  • A six-year-old that died from sepsis after being sent home from hospital with chicken pox. A report found she could have been saved if her condition was diagnosed when she first went to hospital.
  • A six-year-old boy with Downs Syndrome dying after medical professionals failed to recognise the severity of sepsis symptoms.

What are the statistics on sepsis?

Despite being a well-known and life threatening condition, sepsis is often underestimated by the general public. According to NHS figures, it’s estimated that every year more than 100,000 in the UK are admitted to hospital with sepsis. As a result of the condition around 31,000 people die annually in the UK, highlighting how dangerous blood poisoning can be and the need for effective treatment.

A delayed diagnosis of sepsis can mean the chances of making a full recovery are more limited. Every year more people die from sepsis in the UK than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined and it’s the biggest direct cause of death in UK pregnancies.