When patients seek help from their doctors and healthcare providers, the last thing they want is to develop a hospital-acquired infection that can result in developing sepsis.
Unfortunately, hospital acquired infections are a common problem for the American healthcare system. Around 1.7 million Americans develop hospital acquired infections, with 99,000 dying from these infections.
Around 49% of patients with sepsis in ICUs acquired their infection in the hospital.
Once sepsis has been developed, the death rate jumps to 27% for people in hospitals, and 42% for people in ICUs.
Sepsis can also result in permanent organ failure and amputations if not treated in a timely fashion.
When a doctor or healthcare provider fails to recognize the symptoms of sepsis, or directly causes the infection that leads to sepsis, their failures constitute medical malpractice.
If you or your loved one developed hospital sepsis as the result of unsanitary conditions or negligence, you may be eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Continue reading to learn more about what sepsis is, what kinds of infections lead to developing sepsis, and how to file a medical malpractice claim to get the compensation you deserve.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis, or septicemia, is a life-threatening complication caused by a bloodstream infection.
It occurs when the body’s healing inflammatory response severely overreacts to an infection to the point of causing injury to its own tissues and organs, and can even cause death.
Also referred to as “blood poisoning,” sepsis can progress into severe sepsis, with one or more of the body’s organs damaged permanently. Once this occurs, mortality rates significantly increase.
Another dangerous development caused by sepsis is known as “septic shock,” which causes blood pressure levels to drop dangerously low, resulting in a death rate as high as 50%.
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What Kind of Infections Lead to Sepsis?
Sepsis is not a contagious disease that can be spread to other people — there is no sepsis germ.
It is typically caused by an infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
In certain people, the body’s response to fighting infections can cause a drastic chain reaction resulting in sepsis.
Infections that Can Cause Sepsis
Sepsis sites of infection are typically in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tracts.
- Pneumonia (resulting in over 50% of sepsis cases)
- Infection of the abdominal cavity
- Infections in the brain or spinal cord
- Skin wounds, including openings from intravenous (IV) catheters
- Bedsores (common in nursing homes)
Symptoms of Sepsis
Treating sepsis requires prompt recognition and treatment. The warning signs of sepsis include:
- Fever and chills or very low body temperature
- Sweaty/clammy skin
- Fast heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme pain and discomfort
- Mottled, discolored skin
Risk Factors for Sepsis
Sepsis typically affects those who are older with pre-existing conditions, however, sepsis can affect anyone. These risk factors increase the risk of developing sepsis:
- Being older than 65 years old
- Being very young (infants)
- Having a weakened immune system
- Having open wounds or burns
- Using IV catheters and breathing tubes
- Being a patient in the hospital
Treatment for Sepsis
Sepsis can lead to rapid bodily injury to organs and tissue and even cause death quickly. Treatment for sepsis must be quick and aggressive to increase the odds of recovery.
Treatment methods include:
- Treating with antibiotics
- Using intravenous fluids as soon as possible
- Vasopressors to raise blood pressure
- Kidney dialysis
- Amputation (in extreme cases caused by gangrene)
Can Medical Negligence Lead to Sepsis?
Sepsis isn’t an infection, but the body’s response to an infection.
For many people who develop sepsis, it was caused by a healthcare acquired infection — this means a patient got an infection after visiting the hospital.
If sepsis occurred after two days from the date you checked into the hospital, you likely developed a hospital acquired infection, or “hospital sepsis”.
How Sepsis is Contracted in the Hospital or Healthcare Facility
Hospital negligence caused by improper care or sanitization is the main cause of developing a hospital acquired infection that can lead to sepsis.
The following are other causes of hospital negligence that can result in acquiring new infections or sepsis:
- Improper sterilization of surgical tools and instruments
- Inadequate sanitation through the hospital
- Not disinfecting or cleaning IV lines thoroughly
- Inadequate treatment of bedsores or cleaning wounds
- Failure to recognize infections after treatment
- Not properly studying the patient’s medical history
- Failure to recognize and treat sepsis in a timely fashion
- Using defective or improper medical products
- Failure to thoroughly wash hands, causing germs to spread
When to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for Sepsis?
Hospital sepsis lawsuits are one of the most common forms of medical malpractice suits today, often resulting from unsanitary healthcare conditions or by negligence from doctors to recognize symptoms of sepsis before it’s too late.
When hospital-caused sepsis is caused by medical negligence, patients and their families may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the doctor, hospital, and healthcare provider.
In order to prove a valid claim of negligence, the patient must be able to prove the following:
- Evidence of an existing doctor-patient relationship where the doctor owes a duty of care and treatment to the patient.
- The doctor breached the duty of care, failing to recognize symptoms of infection or sepsis in a timely fashion, or not recognizing them at all.
- Evidence of their injuries, or death, caused by the failure to treat sepsis.
- Evidence of doctor’s mistakes that resulted in injuries, or death, caused by failure to treat sepsis.
Book Your No-Cost Medical Malpractice Consultation Today
The experts at Grover Lewis Johnson have over 25 years of experience with a proven track record of leading several successful medical malpractice lawsuits.
We carefully select all of our cases to ensure we’re not wasting your time taking a case to trial that can reach a practical resolution early on, through settlement.
At Grover Lewis Johnson, you don’t have any legal fees until your case is won.
Throughout the entire process, we will be on your side. Start your lawsuit process by contacting our Medical Malpractice team. Book your no-cost consultation today and our team will contact you as soon as possible.