Victims of sepsis often fall ill in the hospital

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50,000 deaths from sepsis annually

The sepsis claimed 50,000 lives in 2011. Around 200,000 people develop the inflammatory reaction known colloquially as blood poisoning every year, which is often diagnosed late, especially in the outpatient setting. Because the symptoms are similar to the symptoms that occur with flu. People often become infected in the hospital after pneumonia or as a result of surgery. At a congress of the German Sepsis Society and the Jena University Hospital, experts are currently discussing how patients' chances of survival can be improved.

Sepsis can often be prevented by more consistent hand disinfection "Two thirds of those affected acquire sepsis from an infection in the hospital," said intensive care doctor Frank Brunkhorst to the news agency "dpa". According to a study, more consistent hand disinfection could prevent infection a vaccination "Many sepsis cases are the result of pneumonia, and pneumococcal vaccination protects against this," said the expert.

It is important to prevent sepsis from developing in advance, because according to a study by the Jena University Hospital, only one in three patients survived blood poisoning after a period of 12 months. As Brunkhorst explained, sepsis is often diagnosed late. "It is not easy to identify sepsis because the first signs are similar to severe flu," said the doctor. "In the hospital, sepsis is sometimes overslept, but the greatest gaps are in the outpatient area." According to Brunkhorst, the training of doctors must therefore be improved. Because the chances of survival of the patients decrease significantly if the blood poisoning is recognized and treated late.

As part of a congress of the German Sepsis Society and the University Hospital Jena, specialist lectures and discussions on the topic of sepsis will take place in Weimar until Friday.

Signs of sepsis While many people mistakenly believe that blood poisoning is shown by a red streak on the skin that runs towards the heart as the disease progresses, other symptoms usually occur in reality. A red line only indicates that there is inflammation in the lymphatic system. However, this is rarely the case. Rather, most patients with sepsis suffer from flu-like symptoms such as fever and general weakness. In addition, confusion and mental changes often occur because the brain is the first organ affected. There may also be breathing problems and signs of circulatory failure. The general condition of the person concerned usually deteriorates rapidly, so that the fastest possible medical help is needed.

Blood poisoning is usually triggered by germs that enter the body through open wounds, for example during or after an operation, and trigger an inflammatory process. The pathogens can spread through the bloodstream throughout the organism and affect all organs if no treatment is given. The oxygen supply to the organs then deteriorates and the patient becomes weaker until individual organs fail. If the doctors fail to contain the inflammation, the circulatory system fails completely in the last stage of the disease, so that the patient dies. (ag)

Image: Rolf van Melis /

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Video: Symptoms of Sepsis

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