Researchers say figures are often inflated and rush for antibiotics may fuel resistance

The public is being misled by scare stories about sepsis, say experts, warning that hype and misunderstandings about the so-called “hidden killer” have generated “an unhealthy climate of fear and retribution” in the UK and the US.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has contributed to the mythology, they say in a letter to a leading medical journal. In March, Hancock tweeted: “Sepsis kills over 52,000 every year – each death a preventable tragedy.” The figure was an estimate from a charity campaigning for awareness on sepsis.

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