September is Sepsis Awareness Month. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that develops as a result of an infection. If left untreated, it can lead to organ failure or even death. The Sepsis Alliance is encouraging communities to spread the word about this deadly condition and learn the risks and warning signs that could potentially save lives.
When a person gets an infection, it triggers an immune response to kill the germs causing it. In patients with sepsis, the immune system overreacts and begins to target the body as well as the infection. If sepsis progresses to severe sepsis, patients’ internal systems may begin to shut down, resulting in trouble breathing, inadequate urine output, abnormal liver tests, and changes in mental status or capacity.
Patients with severe sepsis typically require treatment in an intensive care unit. They may go into septic shock, in which their blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level. An estimated 30 percent of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive.
Patients who have a compromised immune system due to a chronic health condition such as cancer or diabetes are at a high risk for sepsis, as are those with open wounds that may become infected. Infants and senior citizens also face a higher risk than the rest of the population.
Unfortunately, it is often people with compromised immune systems that find themselves in hospitals, surrounded by other sick people. Hospital negligence can cause infection to spread and put these patients at an even higher risk of developing sepsis resulting from a hospital acquired infection.
Early signs of sepsis include a significant change in body temperature, either higher or lower; symptoms of an infection; mental decline, fatigue, or confusion; and extreme pain or discomfort. Together they form the acronym TIME (temperature, infection, mental decline, extremely ill), which the Sepsis Alliance hopes everyone will remember.
Catching sepsis in its early stages is crucial to treating it and eradicating any lasting effects. About 50 percent of sepsis survivors suffer from post-sepsis syndrome, which can include permanent organ damage and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In order to successfully argue a medical malpractice case, it must be established that the patient suffered harm, that medical negligence occurred, and that it was this medical negligence that directly caused the patient’s suffering. For cases involving sepsis, a delayed diagnosis may have prevented life-saving treatment from reaching the patient, or it may have been medical negligence that led to the development of sepsis in the first place.
Hospitals must maintain stringent safety and sanitation standards to prevent the spread of infection. This includes strict adherence to treatment regimens for patients with infections and open wounds.
If a patient does develop sepsis, it is important to diagnose it and begin treatment early for patient survival and prevention of lifelong suffering. When hospitals fail to protect patients, the results can be devastating.
If you or a loved one has suffered from sepsis, contact a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine if hospital negligence was a factor and get you the compensation you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, we help clients throughout New Jersey. Call us today at 732-777-0100 or contact us online for a free consultation.