Sepsis treatment: New blood test could bring diagnosis forward a ‘crucial’ 16 hours

Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection that can lead to multiple organ failure and death, according to the NHS.

The condition, which kills around 37,000 people a year in the UK, can trigger patches of discoloured skin, problems breathing, chills and unconsciousness.

These symptoms, however, are similar to those of other disorders.

This can make sepsis hard to diagnose, meaning valuable time could be lost in treating someone.

However, researchers may have discovered a way to identify the fast-moving condition with a single blood test.

A study by the University of Illinois revealed that the body’s immune response could show its presence.

This is because sepsis develops when the immune system overreacts to an infection in the body.

They found that doctors could look for five key biomarkers - something that indicates what’s going on in the body - in blood known to characterise the condition.

It could save on hours of monitoring symptoms in hospital, which is time that could be crucial for treatment.

The researchers found that biomarkers alone could be more effective at predicting onset of the condition, than the current method.

They found that a single blood sample could give the same results as monitoring vital signs for an additional 16 hours.

“Sepsis is a process that happens very rapidly,” said Professor Ruoqing Zhu, a co-leader of the study.

“A patient could change from stable to near death in a matter of days or hours.

“Data show us that if a patient is treated within a few hours of showing symptoms, there is a high survival rate.

“But as time lengthens, survival rate drops dramatically. So early decision-making is very crucial in treating sepsis."

Currently the main way to diagnose sepsis is by monitoring a patient’s vital signs and watching out for key symptoms.