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With Sepsis, a Delayed Diagnosis Can Mean Death

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2018 | Personal Injury

By Pendergast Law on November 28, 2018

Hospitals exist to treat sick people, but sometimes they make people sick. Your chances of picking up an infection in a hospital, when you’re surrounded by infected people, are high.

Sepsis is one of those infections.

The body’s overwhelming immune response to a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, sepsis is a huge problem in hospitals. This infection has a high death rate, especially for the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system, such as patients on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive drugs. Sepsis is a complication that can grow out of almost any other infection, such as a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or even food poisoning.

If you or someone you know suffered due to a hospital-acquired infection in Seattle, like sepsis, please contact Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S.’s experienced attorneys at 888-539-9211 for a free consultation. Let us get you the compensation you deserve.

What Is Sepsis?

Sepsis, or septic shock, is a life-threatening condition. Sepsis occurs when chemicals are released into the bloodstream to fight off an infection, but they spark an overwhelming inflammatory response in the body instead. Sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure or death when not treated in time.

Here are some of the more common causes of sepsis:

  • Intravenous lines: Intravenous lines are a common source of sepsis because they have direct contact with the bloodstream.
  • Surgical wounds: These wounds take longer to heal than a typical scrape, and require antibiotics to properly heal. Otherwise, the wounds can cause sepsis.
  • Bedsores: These pressure ulcers on the skin are frequently seen in nursing homes as well as in hospitals. Patients who do not get enough movement can develop bedsores, which can turn to open wounds and ultimately lead to sepsis.
  • Other infections: Sometimes medical staff fail to recognize an infection, and it spreads, leading to septic shock.

Sepsis presents itself with early symptoms like a high fever, accelerated heartbeat, pain, nausea, confusion, lethargy, and an inability to keep down liquids. Anyone with those symptoms should be seen by a doctor immediately.

Sepsis can have long-term side effects. Here are the most common ones:

  • Amputation
  • Gangrene
  • Kidney failure
  • Brain damage
  • Death

Can Sepsis Be Treated?

When a person goes into septic shock, it is a medical emergency and must be treated right away. Time is of essence when it comes to this infection, and the sooner it is caught, the better the patient’s chances of coming out of it unharmed.

Treatment includes antibiotics, which are administered intravenously to quickly hit the bloodstream. When sepsis is more advanced, other treatments might include incubation, corticosteroids, vasopressors, catheters, and renal replacement therapy.

There are different stages of sepsis that vary in severity.

  • Sepsis is the sign that an infection is spreading to at least two internal “systems.”
  • Severe sepsis means there is organ damage, such as kidney, lung, or liver impairment.
  • Septic shock means the body is not responding to sepsis treatment.

According to Dr. Steve Peters from the Mayo Clinic, septic shock has a 20%-30% risk of death in hospitalized patients.

When Is Sepsis Medical Malpractice?

Sepsis can be a cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Seattle, especially if:

  • Sepsis was acquired while the victim was under the care of a hospital.
  • The hospital acted negligently in treating the infection. (Medical experts will have to testify to prove that the standard of care was subpar.)
  • The victim suffered permanent injuries or death directly due to the sepsis.

Sepsis is serious and must be addressed right away. If your loved one contracted sepsis at a hospital or a nursing home, it’s vital that you contact a Seattle medical malpractice lawyer at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., to discuss your legal rights.

If you decide to pursue a medical malpractice claim, we will start building your case and let you focus on your recovery. We work with medical experts, who will review your records and figure out exactly where negligence took place. Medical malpractice is a serious issue, and nobody who’s been harmed by it should have to suffer alone. With your medical bills piling up, rehabilitation bills, and lost wages, it’s important to receive financial compensation from those responsible for your injuries. A hospital should be a safe place where you’re cured of your ailments, not where you pick up worse ones!

We will fight on your behalf to ensure that the negligence you’ve experienced doesn’t happen again — and you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., at 888-539-9211 for a free consultation.