According to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, sepsis is the leading cause of death in the world. It is more widespread than cancer or even coronary diseases. Sepsis is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide. Per year, sepsis is responsible for almost 20 percent of all global deaths.
In Canada, one in every 18 deaths involved sepsis, making it the 12th leading cause of death in the country. Even if sepsis doesn’t end in death, it can make a patient’s hospital stay longer and more complicated.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis occurs as a result of the immune system going into overdrive due to an infection. Your immune system is what protects your body from illnesses and infections. Sepsis occurs when the chemicals the immune system releases into the bloodstream to fight an infection instead cause inflammation throughout the entire body. This inflammation leads to the formation of tiny blood clots, which effectively block oxygen and nutrients from reaching your vital organs.
Sepsis occurs in three stages: First, it starts to occur when an infection reaches your bloodstream and causes inflammation in the body. Next, severe sepsis occurs when the infection becomes so serious that it affects the function of your body’s organs, like your heart, brain, or kidneys. Lastly, septic shock occurs when the body goes through a significant drop in blood pressure. This leads to respiratory or heart failure, stroke, or the failure of other organs and, ultimately, death.
Everyone can fall victim to sepsis or septic shock, although more vulnerable people include pregnant women, older adults, children younger than one year old, individuals who have chronic conditions, or those who have weakened immune systems.
On its own, sepsis can be costly and traumatic, but it can also be a sign that medical malpractice has occurred. Medical malpractice is a medical professional’s failure to perform their duties up to the standard care of the law. In these situations, it’s critical for the injured patient or their loved ones to contact trusted medical malpractice lawyers as soon as possible to start the process of building a case and getting legal justice.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Sepsis has a few common symptoms that were developed into a helpful mnemonic device by the Sepsis Alliance for easy remembrance. They include:
- Shivering, fever, or feeling cold
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Pale or discoloured skin
- Sleepiness or difficulty waking up
- Thoughts such as “I feel like I might die”
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms can be associated with other conditions, so we recommend that patients emphasize and raise the prospect of sepsis with their healthcare practitioners if they think it might be the cause of their symptoms.
In turn, doctors should look for these symptoms in order to help diagnose sepsis. They can also perform other tests, which include blood tests, x-rays, or CT scans, in order to confirm the cause of the symptoms or locate any underlying infections.
When sepsis is diagnosed, the treatment involves attacking the infection with antibiotics while actively monitoring and managing the patient’s symptoms and helping regulate the immune system’s response. Treatment can involve assisted breathing, IV fluids, and kidney dialysis. In some situations, surgery might be required to eliminate the infection or remove tissues damaged by it.
Common Causes of Sepsis
While many patients enter hospitals, long-term care facilities, or other medical facilities with pre-existing medical infections that can develop into sepsis, hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are another common occurrence leading to sepsis.
HAIs usually occur 48 hours after being admitted into a facility, and risk factors include the seriousness of the illness, length of hospital stay, and compromised immune systems, but they can also be caused by organizational or individual healthcare worker negligence. Some examples include:
- Poor sanitation practices
- Defective medical products
- Improperly sterilized medical equipment and devices
- Improperly healing surgical wounds or bedsores, which develop due to poor care
Medical Malpractice Cases Involving Sepsis
In some instances, a doctor might fail to diagnose sepsis in a patient or fail to treat it properly. There are also cases where an infection that causes sepsis is caused by unhygienic hospital conditions or negligent medical involvement. If this is the case, then the patient might have a medical malpractice claim. However, keep in mind that not every sepsis diagnosis or poor medical outcome are grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Hiring a Trusted Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Canada
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will be able to help you establish if preventable medical errors were made during your or your loved ones’ treatment at a medical facility.
If you or a loved one has developed sepsis during medical treatment, or have suffered injuries as a result of undiagnosed or mistreated sepsis diagnosis, then you might be able to file a legal claim against the responsible parties.
Sommers Roth & Elmaleh is a Canadian law firm that is dedicated to helping injured patients and their loved ones in medical malpractice cases of many kinds. We have been in the industry for over 40 years, and our expert medical malpractice lawyers are well recognized and well respected. We work hard to help you understand your legal rights, and we have a proven track record of medical malpractice successes.
For more information about our medical malpractice lawyers, call us at 1-416-961-1212 or contact us online for your free consultation.
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