What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection. It happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body's own tissues and organs.

Sepsis can affect anyone and can be hard to spot. Look out for the signs:

Slurred speech and confusion
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine
Severe breathlessness
It feels like you're going to die
Skin mottled or discoloured

Just ask: 'could it be sepsis?'

If you suspect sepsis, act fast. Call NHS 111 for guidance. Early recognition of the signs is key and could ultimately save a life.

We are implementing the NHS England and NHS Improvement-endorsed National Early Warning Score (NEWS2) tool to improve patient safety by improving the detection of and response to physical deterioration in adults, including sepsis.

NEWS2 is based on a simple combined scoring system, where a score is allocated to physiological measurements when patients are being monitored in clinical settings.

NEWS2 should greatly increase the early detection of sepsis and other acute illnesses across our services, making them safer, improving patient outcomes and increasing chances of survival and recovery.

It's important that staff are familiar with the signs and symptoms of sepsis and the action they should take if they suspect sepsis in a patient, including both mental health and community health staff. Even non-clinical staff will benefit from increased sepsis awareness as it could affect anyone at any time, and the ability to recognise the signs and act quickly is key.

There are a number of modules on Oracle Learning Management (OLM) around sepsis awareness, which you can complete. While these are non-mandatory, we strongly encourage staff to find the time to complete these to improve your awareness of sepsis.

Log-in to OLM and search for 'Sepsis in Primary Care'. Even though this module was developed for staff working in a primary care setting, the training package is relevant for all NHS staff.

You can also view resources, procedures and modules around sepsis on Clinical Skills.net. You can also take a short test to test your competency around sepsis awareness on Clinical Skills.net. Visit Connect > Who, what, where > Clinical Skills.net to find out how to log-in to the system.

The UK Sepsis Trust has produced a number of patient stories, which you can view on their website. These show how sepsis can affect anyone, young or old, and how it can result from any type of infection.