By Kate Wilson, Paralegal | 9 October 2020
To raise awareness of Sepsis, the hidden killer, I decided to set myself the challenge of cycling indoors for 24 hours, with a target of raising £340 for 340 miles.
I managed to persuade my partner, Chris Goldie, to join me. Our challenge commenced on Sunday 13 September 2020 at 7:00am, in aid of World Sepsis Day and the charity initiative Cycle4Sepsis, which was organised by the UK Sepsis Trust.
Our static bike set-up consisted of a road bike (with a stern saddle!), an indoor turbo trainer to add resistance and a £19 Amazon Basics fan. The bike was connected to ‘Zwift’, a virtual cycling application. Zwift works to mimic the feel of riding on the road so that, when it looks like you’re climbing a hill, you most definitely feel like you’re climbing a hill. Zwift also helped monitor our mileage and power throughout the ride.
We were riding strong until the midday heatwave, at which point our one-bedroom flat rose to a comfortable 29 degrees and we regretted our frugal fan purchase.
Nevertheless, we powered on to the halfway point and were pleasantly surprised to have already covered 209 miles. We were keen to celebrate our efforts, but little did we know how much worse the next twelve hours would be.
Our toughest point arrived at approximately 3:00am when enthusiasm was hard to find and our bodies wanted to do anything but pedal.
However, reading the stories of those affected by Sepsis to each other as we rode reminded both of us why we were sitting on that saddle. An anonymous donation of £100 from a fellow ‘zwifter’ also provided physical proof of the awareness that we were creating.
We eventually reached the final hour - our legs barely moving, our wrists bruised from resting on the handlebars and the empty carcasses of Lucozade Sports drinks spread across the floor. With one final push to the end, we reached the 24-hour mark, riding 369 miles and raising a total of £859 for this great charity. While we are massively proud of what we achieved, we also shudder at the thought of mounting that road bike any time soon.
Through my own and The UK Sepsis Trust social media accounts (which I help manage as a volunteer), I am pleased to have contributed to raising awareness of such a vital illness and I plan to continue supporting the charity for the foreseeable future.
Our JustGiving Page is still open, so please follow this link if you would like to donate.
Sepsis – The Hidden Killer
Sepsis kills more individuals than cancer, with recent findings showing that the sepsis death toll has more than doubled. The previous global estimate put the annual death toll at 5.3 million, which has recently increased to an estimate of 11 million. In the UK alone, 5 people die with sepsis every hour and 40% of all sepsis survivors suffer permanent, life changing effects. It is expected that numbers will continue to dramatically increase as a result of COVID-19.
Sepsis is defined as the body’s immune system overreacting to an infection or injury, causing the individual to suffer from blood poisoning. Our immune system has the capability of fighting infections, though occasionally it attacks our body’s own organs and tissues.
Sepsis needs to be diagnosed promptly. Guidelines endorse a focus on the rapidity of treatment once sepsis has been identified, with a recommendation for implementation of the Sepsis six within one hour including administration of IV antibiotics. Delay in implementation of treatment has been shown to increase mortality and death can occur within less than 24 hours.
Some symptoms can mimic other illnesses and individuals are advised to seek urgent medical advice if they develop slurred speech, breathlessness, shivering and lethargy. The message of The UK Sepsis Trust is for people to think ‘Could it be sepsis?’ if they feel unwell and to ask medical professionals to consider if Sepsis is a cause of their illness. This simple message to raise awareness will keep sepsis at the forefront of a medical professional’s mind when considering a diagnosis.
Research has suggested that young infants, adults over 75 and people with diabetes or weakened immune systems are most at risk. However, The UK Sepsis Trust has confirmed that statistics are unknown regarding the correlation between age and sepsis deaths; suggesting everyone is at risk. This is of great concern, considering the majority of millennials are oblivious to the symptoms of Sepsis or even the infection itself.
A further concern is that Sepsis has only been listed as a cause of death in approximately 40% of cases where it played a major role, with the underlying condition often being cited on death certificates as the only cause of death. If a death is sudden and the reasons for it are unclear it is likely that there will be an inquest.
Unfortunately, we often see instances where sepsis could have been diagnosed sooner, and where this delay has led to significant injury or death.
We have also seen families query the cause of death of the bereaved, following concerns of sub-optimal medical treatment. Failures to recognise and treat Sepsis can be missed by Coroners and if you have concerns it is important to seek legal representation before the inquest concludes.
If you require legal assistance, Hugh James’ top ranked Clinical Negligence Team provide expert advice to clients who may have lost family members or themselves suffered as a result of a failure to diagnose and treat Sepsis.
Just think – could it be, or was it, sepsis?
Hugh James is ranked in the top tier for our expert clinical negligence advice by both major legal guides Chambers and Partners and Legal 500. We have also been awarded 'Clinical Negligence Team of the Year' at the Personal Injury Awards 2019. Simply get in touch with us at 033 3016 2222 or visit our website for more information.
About the Author
Kate Wilson is a paralegal and future Trainee Solicitor at Hugh James and is based in our clinical negligence team.