1. ITV Report

Man who had all four limbs amputated calls for mandatory sepsis training

Tom Ray spent months in a coma after getting a small cut at the dentist. Credit: ITV News

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face had been removed has called for mandatory training on sepsis.

Tom Ray, from Rutland, was fit and healthy before he contracted the blood infection at the age of 38 in 1999.

He spent three months in a coma. It meant he missed the birth of his second child, Fred.

The illness also took a toll on Mr Ray's professional life, leading to the family losing their business and having to sell their home.

Tom Ray is now calling for mandatory training on sepsis. Credit: PA

Mr Ray’s sepsis – caused by a cut to his gum during a trip to the dentist, combined with a chest infection – came on rapidly and led to vomiting and a high temperature.

He fell into a coma and when he awoke he could not recognise his wife.

Mr Ray will tell the Royal College of Nursing conference on Wednesday how there were delays to his diagnosis for sepsis.

On his website, he says: "Every doctor that saw me on admission to hospital missed what were the classic signs of sepsis.

"They didn’t know what was wrong with me so I was simply put into a side ward, the curtains were closed around me and I was left to die."

In his speech to the Royal College of Nursing, Mr Ray will call for more support and mandatory training for all members of the nursing and midwifery professions.

He said: "Poor outcomes for patients are equally dramatic for staff, friends and family and they will continue to happen if nursing staff are over-stretched, under-trained and unsupported.

"My own experience has placed huge strain on myself, my family and my carers - and it should never have happened.

"Damage and even death from sepsis will continue until there is a commitment to educate all staff to give every patient the care and attention that is needed to spot and treat sepsis as fast as possible."

A test for the illness could help diagnose the illness in just minutes. Credit: PA

Rose Gallagher, professional lead for infection prevention and control at the RCN, said: "Without the right number of nurses with the right training, we will struggle to identify and manage potential cases of sepsis – and we must have better public awareness to help people recognise the potential symptoms of sepsis and seek help quickly.

"Patients who survive sepsis are also left with long-term physical and psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, fatigue, decreased cognitive function, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

"Life can be challenging not only for patients but also for their families."

Mr Ray’s clinician, Pippa Bagnall, said: "Investment in nursing staff education shouldn’t be seen as a cost – it’s an investment that everyone benefits from.

"Two hours of training for each nursing professional could massively reduce the £15 billion cost of sepsis to the NHS."

What are the signs of sepsis and what are the symptoms?

Early symptoms of sepsis usually develop quickly and can include:

  • high temperature (fever)
  • chills and shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing

Symptoms of more severe sepsis can include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • confusion or disorientation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • not passing water for prolonged periods
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin

The Sepsis Trust says it can be difficult to distinguish from flu and advises people "don't be afraid to say 'I think this might be sepsis'."

Getting antibiotics and fluid early can halt the progression of the infection.