New draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence urge healthcare professionals to treat life-threatening cases of sepsis within one hour.

According to preliminary advice from the Institute, health professionals in any setting - such as GPs, paramedics and A&E staff - should check people with suspected sepsis for specific signs to determine whether their symptoms are life-threatening.

Those identified as high risk should be reviewed immediately by senior hospital staff and be treated with antibiotics and intravenous (IV) fluid treatment within one hour. Should it take more than an hour to get to a hospital, antibiotics can be given in GP practices or by ambulance staff, NICE noted.

“Severe symptoms can develop in sepsis very quickly. If high-risk patients are not identified and treated promptly, people can be left with debilitating problems. In the worst cases, they may die,” said Professor Gillian Leng, NICE deputy chief executive.

A report in 2015 report by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death highlighted that 40 percent of people admitted to A&E with sepsis did not have a timely review by a senior clinician, while in 29 percent of cases there was a delay in administering antibiotics. Inconsistencies in early use of IV fluid were also reported.

“Every death from sepsis is a tragedy, yet too often the warning signs are missed - we need to get far better at spotting sepsis across the NHS and this advice shows how vital it is for clinicians to treat life-threatening symptoms as soon as possible,” commented health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

“Our relentless drive to raise awareness of this deadly condition, as well as the tireless efforts of campaigners and families who have lost loved ones, has seen a million leaflets and posters already distributed to GP clinics, hospitals and other public places - helping raise awareness to fight against this devastating condition,” he added.