The Dangers of Sepsis

In August 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared sepsis a medical emergency. Sepsis is a reaction to your body fighting a life-threatening infection. It moves through the body quickly and can be deadly if not diagnosed and treated quickly. Unfortunately, less than half of Americans have heard of the illness. Sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and potentially death. The CDC reported that roughly 72 percent of patients with sepsis were recently seen by doctors and nurses that could have caught it early or prevented it.

What causes sepsis?

Perhaps one of the most startling facts is that sepsis can be caused by any type of infection, whether it is a bacteria, virus, or fungus. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common causes are:

  • Pneumonia
  • Kidney infection
  • Abdominal infection
  • Bloodstream infection

While sepsis may be caused by any infection, it is more common if the patient has any of the following:

  • A compromised immune system
  • Already in the intensive care unit
  • Are very old or very young
  • Have any wounds or injuries
  • have an invasive device such as a breathing tube

Diagnosis and symptoms of sepsis

Sepsis can be difficult to diagnosis because many of the symptoms can be caused by other disorders. To diagnosis sepsis, doctors will often run a variety of tests that can include blood tests, urine tests, imaging scans (such as x-rays), and respiratory or wound secretions. Some of the common symptoms of are shivering with fever, extreme pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, high heart rate, and confusion or disorientation. Mayo Clinic states that the patient must exhibit two out of the following symptoms to be diagnosed:

  • Body temperature above 101 F or below 96.8 F
  • Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute
  • Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute

The diagnosis may be upgraded to severe sepsis if you display any of the following symptoms:

  • Decrease in platelet count
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal heart pumping function
  • Significantly decreased urine output
  • Abrupt change in mental status
  • Abdominal pain

The patient may be diagnosed with septic shock if they display the signs of severe sepsis and have extremely low blood pressure that does not adequately respond to simple fluid replacement.

Treatment for Sepsis

A patient has the best chance of surviving sepsis if they receive early and aggressive treatment. This may include treatment in the intensive care unit along with close monitoring from a medical team. Other treatments that are often used are antibiotics, surgery, and supportive care such as oxygen and fluids.

Sepsis is a swift and devastating illness and if it is not diagnosed quickly can result in death. The symptoms are often difficult to diagnose due to another infection or illness in the body. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or passed away due to sepsis, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today. They will be able to evaluate any potential claim you may have and help you determine what your next steps may be. Call Powers Taylor today for a free consultation.


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