Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is urging the community to be alert to the symptoms of sepsis to help fight the potentially fatal disease this World Sepsis Day, September 13.
MLHD Board Director and Young General Practitioner, Dr Tom Douch, said internationally sepsis is recognised as a medical emergency where the body's response to an infection is so great that it starts to attack and injure its own tissues and organs.
"Any delays in identifying symptoms and starting treatment including antibiotics, increase a patient's risk of death, loss of limbs or other long-term disability," Dr Douch said.
Clinical Excellence Commission Director Systems Improvement Dr Harvey Lander said sepsis symptoms to be alert for in very unwell adult patients with an infection include muscle pain, shivering, breathlessness, confusion or not passing urine for more than a day.
"If a child is unwell with an infection, look out for a very high or very low temperature, very fast breathing, confusion, a 'fit' or convulsion, mottled skin, lethargy, not feeding, and repeated vomiting as alert symptoms," said Dr Lander.
"The groups most at risk are the very young, those older than 65 years and people with weakened immune systems.
"We need everyone to consider 'could it be sepsis?' so, we can stop sepsis and save lives."
World Sepsis Day is a great time to remind health workers, patients and carers everywhere to be alert to the symptoms.
"Sepsis is a very serious condition and not usually on the minds of families caring for a loved one, but sepsis moves rapidly and being alert to symptoms and getting anyone with signs to hospital is crucial to save lives and reduce harm," Dr Douch said.
Patients with sepsis are up to five times more likely to die than patients with a heart attack or stroke so beginning treatment immediately is crucial to saving lives and improving patient outcomes.
The Clinical Excellence Commission's SEPSIS KILLS program aims to reduce sepsis harm to adults and children in NSW hospitals.