Despite the fact that sepsis is viewed by the healthcare community as a medical emergency, many people have either never heard of it or are misinformed about it.
Formerly referred to as “blood poisoning,” sepsis is one of the most common causes of death in a hospital, killing 258,000 Americans every year. Awareness and education are the keys to recognizing that someone is septic. Early recognition and treatment provide the best chances of survival.
If you or a loved one has contracted sepsis due to someone else’s negligence, you should seek the advice of an experienced medical malpractice law firm. The GA sepsis lawyers at the Mann Law Firm handle cases in which people have had the signs and symptoms of sepsis that were misdiagnosed at a nursing home or hospital, as well as cases in which a person developed sepsis while in a hospital or nursing home. When a health professional fails to exercise proper care, injured patients have a right to hold them accountable and may be entitled to receive compensation. Discuss your legal options by calling 478-742-3381 or filling out our online form. In addition to cases handled in Macon, we are prepared to handle negligence claims on behalf of clients in Dublin, Warner Robins, Milledgeville, and other Georgia communities. We would like to meet with you to discuss your case.
What is sepsis?
While sepsis can happen to anyone, it is more common in the elderly, children, people with weakened immune systems and patients with chronic diseases. It is an illness caused by an infection in the blood. It can develop any time germs enter the body, such as during invasive medical procedures or from any type of infection such as pneumonia, appendicitis, cellulitis, urinary tract infections, open wounds, and bedsores. Most cases of sepsis are caused by bacteria, but other types of micro-organisms, including fungi, parasites, and viruses, can also be to blame.
Rather than staying localized to the area in distress, the immune system goes into overdrive, leading to widespread inflammation, leaky blood vessels, abnormal blood clotting, tissue damage, and organ damage. In severe cases, sepsis can result in organ failure so massive that the patient dies from septic shock. Even among those who survive, there may be permanent damage such as limb loss, nerve injury, and cognitive impairment.
When left undiagnosed and untreated, sepsis can be fatal. However, because sepsis is the result of an infection, there is no single sign that clearly identifies when a patient has it. Instead, sepsis includes signs common to an infection (vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, etc.) combined with a temperature drastically on either side of normal, rapid breathing, confusion, discolored skin, increased heart rate, or serious overall discomfort. General guidelines for a diagnosis of sepsis include:
- Heart rate above 90 beats per minute
- More than 20 breaths per minute (hyperventilation)
- White blood cell count below 4000 cells/mm.
The severity of a sepsis incident, and the speed at which it progresses, varies from patient to patient and is dependent on a number of medical factors. Sepsis can progress rapidly and be fatal within a few hours for some patients, so early recognition of the condition is critical. There are actions that can be taken when sepsis is suspected that can reduce the likelihood of a serious outcome.
Legal rights and obligations
Healthcare professionals simply must react quickly to suspicious symptoms. Taking blood samples and cultures to diagnose the underlying infection is certainly important, but many proactive steps can be taken while waiting for results. Antibiotics, IV fluids, oxygen and vital-organ support can make all the difference in a sepsis medical emergency and can be administered before the sepsis develops into septic shock.
This means that adequate recognition and treatment of sepsis in U.S. hospitals is sorely lacking. If there is a failure to diagnose a patient with sepsis followed by a failure to treat the infection, it is possible that the healthcare professionals involved acted negligently. If they did not provide the standard of care required of them by law, there may be a case for medical malpractice. To determine whether or not you have a claim, you should contact an experienced attorney who can help you understand what your legal rights are and what you need to do in order to pursue legal action.
We can help
Failure to diagnose sepsis and failure to treat sepsis are both forms of medical malpractice. If you believe that a healthcare provider may have negligently allowed you or someone you love to develop a life-threatening infection, or if you have lost someone to such an infection, contact the Macon septic shock attorneys at the Mann Law Firm by calling (478) 742-3381 or filling out our online form. We have been successfully litigating personal injury cases across Georgia for over 50 years and have much experience handling medical malpractices involving sepsis-related issues. We help our clients pursue compensation for past and future medical expenses, loss of potential income, disability, wrongful death, emotional trauma, and more. Schedule a free and confidential consultation with us today to find out how we can help you.
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