A study by the Health Service Ombudsman found shortcomings in initial assessment and delay in emergency treatment which have led to missed opportunities to save lives.
It found that care failings seem to occur mainly in the first few hours after arrival in hospital, when rapid diagnosis and simple treatment can be critical to the chances of survival.
Recurring shortcomings included lack of timely history and examination on presentation, failure to recognise the severity of the illness, delays in administering treatment, and delay in source control of infection.
Sepsis is an overreaction to infection by the body’s immune system, which can lead to widespread inflammation (swelling) and blood clotting.
It accounts for 100,000 hospital admissions each year, with an average cost of about £20,000 each, according to the UK Sepsis Trust. Around 37,000 people are estimated to die of it each year.
The most common causes of severe sepsis are pneumonia, bowel perforation, urinary infection, and severe skin infections.