Recognizing the Signs of Sepsis

Sepsis is a serious, life-threatening bodily response to infection that, if left untreated, will cause accelerated tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Sepsis results in the hospitalization of more than one million people each year and is one of the leading causes of disease-related deaths in the U.S. Knowing the signs of sepsis can help to protect you and your loved ones from this insidious killer.  

Understanding Sepsis

An infection or illness can strike anyone, even the most healthy among us. The body’s natural response to an infection is the protection of our body. However, sepsis results from an excessive infection response that triggers widespread inflammation leading to blood flow issues, leaky vessels, and clots. The infections that lead to sepsis most often occur in populations with immune systems, such as infants and the elderly.

Sepsis Symptoms and Causes

Sepsis presents itself in three distinct stages, and they are as follows:

  • Sepsis: The first stage of sepsis occurs when an infection reaches the bloodstream, causing inflammation of the body.
  • Severe Sepsis: The second stage (severe sepsis) occurs when the infection reaches the point of a blood flow disruption to the kidneys or the brain, leading to organ failures.
  • Septic Shock: The third stage (septic shock) occurs when the patient’s blood pressure lowers to the point that it causes heart, organ, respiratory failure, or death.

A medical professional’s failure to diagnose sepsis is a grave matter. Society tells us to trust physicians and other healthcare professionals to protect our health when most vulnerable. However, in a wrongful death from sepsis case, the patient may not have received the required level of care, and early signs of sepsis may have been missed.

Sepsis doesn’t just happen out of the blue. Many cases occur following surgery, and symptoms are often mistaken as side effects. In these cases, the patient is sent home to recover only to have their condition worsen in time.

If either you or a loved one has had recent surgery and is experiencing any of these conditions, you should seek medical attention immediately:

  • Discolored or patchy skin
  • Difficulty urinating or a decrease in the amount of urination
  • Disorientation, lightheadedness, or confusion
  • Rapid breathing or pulse
  • Weakness and chills
  • Nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea
  • High fever or a body temperature that is below 98.6F

Sepsis Treatment

Sepsis is not easily treated with medication. Often, a sepsis patient will be admitted to intensive care for round-the-clock monitoring and vital organ maintenance to prevent further spread. Those with pre-existing conditions like pneumonia, bronchitis, or lung infections, can suffer permanent damage that may further compromise immunity.

However, once admitted to a hospital, the patient will undergo several tests to gauge the severity of the sepsis and determine if septic shock occurred. Blood tests are critical in the diagnosis of sepsis and will look for the following:

  • the presence of bacteria in a patient’s bloodstream
  • abnormal kidney function
  • blood clots
  • electrolyte imbalance

Due to the severe nature of sepsis, all of us must rely on medical professionals to correctly diagnose. In many sepsis cases, this diagnosis happens too late.

Suppose someone you know or love has been seriously injured or has died due to a medical professional’s failure to diagnose infection symptoms that resulted in sepsis. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation and would benefit from contacting a sepsis lawsuit attorney right away.

Can I Sue for a Failure to Properly Diagnose Sepsis?

Cases involving a doctor’s failure to diagnose are often characterized by the medical professional’s failure to meet the level of care reasonably due to the patient. When it comes to sepsis, patients with negative blood test results do have a right to request additional tests. To properly diagnose sepsis, other tests might be required as well. If the following tests were not ordered following negative blood tests, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss whether a medical malpractice case is warranted:

  • x-rays
  • MRIs
  • Ultrasounds
  • CT scans

If these tests were not ordered, a severe condition could have been missed as sepsis was infecting your body.

At the Thistle Law Firm, we know most doctors and other healthcare professionals do their best to protect the health and welfare of their patients. Still, the most experienced and well-respected doctors and other medical professionals can make mistakes.

Seek Legal Help in Wrongful Death Sepsis Cases

Suppose sepsis destroyed the life of you or a loved one or caused a loved one’s death. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation if there was medical malpractice or a failure on the part of a medical professional to diagnose sepsis. Contact the Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys at The Thistle Law Firm today or call us directly at 215-525-6824 for a free consultation.

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