Sepsis is the leading cause of death in new mothers

  • Posted

Posted 09/07/2014

Rosaline Wong 1397335781_RosalineWong2.jpg

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in new mothers

University of Oxford researchers reported that doctors and midwives need to watch pregnant women and new mothers for signs of sepsis triggered by infection as it is the leading cause of death in new mothers in the UK.

Between June 2011 and May 2012, there were 365 confirmed cases of severe maternal infection. 71 women developed septic shock and 5 women died. Women who have recently had an infection are at high risk and in a third of cases the cause of sepsis was a genital tract infection.

Rosaline Wong, Clinical Negligence specialist at Ashtons Legal said: “My experience in dealing with claims arising from maternal sepsis indicate that some health professionals either fail to recognise the symptoms of infection or fail to rapidly treat the condition. In some cases, existing care standards and protocols were not being followed which lead to devastating consequences”.

“I am currently representing a mother who had a water infection at 32 weeks. She was prescribed antibiotics but was later advised by her midwife to stop taking the medicine. Two weeks later my client developed sepsis and collapsed. Soon after she was rushed to hospital, her infection escalated to septic shock and multiple organ failure. Her baby had to be delivered by emergency C-section 6 weeks before the expected date of delivery. Unfortunately my client and her baby remained very ill for a long period of time. She has been told that her child has cerebral palsy caused by severe sepsis in pregnancy and deprivation of oxygen at the time of birth. This mother is now faced with life changing consequences. She will need considerable financial and emotional assistance as her child requires round the clock care”. 

The recent Oxford study affirms that doctors and midwives should be aware that pregnant women with suspected infection need closer attention than non pregnant women and severe sepsis should be regarded as a medical emergency. There is no room for complacency about infections. Only prompt treatment can avoid the rapid deterioration that leads to premature birth, multiple organ failure and maternal deaths.


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