After any injury, illness, or surgical procedure, the risk of getting an infection is a real concern. Most doctors and medical personnel work hard to help you recover in a clean, safe environment to minimize the chances of an infection occurring in the hospital. Nursing home residents are also at risk for serious infections, especially when the level of care is already not as good as it should be.
There are some situations when infection may be unavoidable, though, and doctors need to act fast to treat it before it gets worse and sepsis, or blood poisoning, occurs. The risk is so great that failure to diagnose a septic infection in a timely fashion may be considered malpractice.
Here’s what you should know about sepsis and septic shock, including how it happens, signs and symptoms, how it’s treated, and how to get legal help if you think that you or a loved one suffered from an infection caused by the negligence of your healthcare provider.
How Septic Infections Occur
Sepsis is a term that means "infection" and occurs when a part of the body becomes infected with harmful bacteria and the toxins that they release. A doctor may say that a wound, such as the location of a surgery, has “become septic.” This means that the site has become infected and the inflammation is starting to spread throughout the body.
Common sites on the body where sepsis can start may include:
- Surgical sites. Though surgeons take many precautions to prevent bacterial contamination, any time an invasive surgical procedure is performed there is a risk of infection.
- IV lines. Intravenous lines are placed using a needle that punctures the skin and leaves a thin catheter in a vein to deliver fluids or liquid medications. Though the wound is small, it connects directly into the bloodstream, making the risk of infection high.
- Pressure ulcers. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are a real risk for the elderly in nursing homes and anyone else who has serious mobility issues, too. If left untreated, these wounds can penetrate bone over time and are at a huge risk of infection.
The early signs and symptoms of sepsis, such as fever, chills, sweating, and a fast heartbeat are easily missed by non-professionals, as they may be mistaken for other conditions.
Untreated sepsis can result in septic shock, which can quickly become fatal. The symptoms of septic shock may include:
- High fever
- Low body temperature
- Rapid, shallow breathing or difficulty catching breath
- Mental confusion
- Cyanosis (blue coloring) of the lips, fingers, or toes
Septic shock is a sign that the inflammation has spread throughout the blood and is affecting the organs of the body, such as the brain, heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys. This is an acute medical emergency that will result in death if not treated immediately. Treatments may include antibiotics and other medications, intravenous fluids, and supportive care, such as mechanical ventilation or dialysis.
Liability After Sepsis Diagnosis
Determining responsibility for sepsis or septic shock is a complex process that involves close examination of the circumstances surrounding the incident. A personal injury attorney can begin an investigation into your case to determine whether medical malpractice was involved and help you decide whether you may be owed compensation for the infection. This can include recovery for any medical bills and future care, skilled nursing help or long-term care costs, and other expenses related to the incident.
The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP are here to provide the legal support that victims of medical malpractice need. When you and your family are struggling with the consequences of the negligence of a healthcare provider, our team will be by your side to protect your rights and help you get the justice that you deserve in a court of law.
For a free, no-obligation consultation with the experienced legal professionals at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone today, use our online contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.