By Sam Blanchard Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 11:08 BST, 4 July 2019 | Updated: 11:30 BST, 4 July 2019
NHS patients' lives may be put at risks because hospitals are taking too long to give antibiotics for suspected sepsis.
As many as one in four people thought to have the life-threatening illness are having to wait more than an hour before being treated to prevent it.
The health service says it's crucial to take no more than an hour to give life-saving medication to anyone who may have sepsis, which can cause organ failure.
But an investigation has found some hospitals leave more than half their patients waiting longer than this.
Experts at dedicated charity the UK Sepsis Trust called the figures 'concerning'.
Simon Smith, from Dudley, West Midlands, died last year after developing sepsis but having to wait six days before being given antibiotics by doctors at his local hospital
Sepsis is an extremely deadly overreaction of the immune system which causes fever, shivering, a fast heartbeat and erratic breathing.
Around 250,000 people in the UK are thought to develop the illness – which is not an infection – every year, and around 55,000 of them die.
It can kill quickly and is always a medical emergency. People who are already ill or infected with something else are the most likely to develop sepsis.
A spokesman for the UK Sepsis Trust, Dr Ron Daniels, told the BBC treating people within an hour was 'essential to increase the chances of surviving'.
Testing for sepsis can be slow because it's not caused by a specific bacteria or virus.
To overcome this the NHS prioritises hooking up patients who might have the condition to intravenous antibiotics as a precaution.
Not doing so raises the risk of septic shock which causes vomiting, dizziness, confusion, severe pain and breathlessness.
This can drop someone into a coma and eventually kill them – sometimes this takes just a matter of hours.
But the BBC's investigation found only 75 per cent of NHS patients with suspected sepsis got medicine within an hour in January, February and March.
Simon Smith, 51, died last year after