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We’ve been discussing the all-too-real danger posed by sepsis, an especially virulent complication of infection that is only known by roughly 44 percent of U.S. adults despite being one of the nation’s leading costs of hospitalization — $20 billion per year.
In particular, we’ve been focusing on how this condition, which is treatable when existing hospital protocols and proper medical procedures are followed, can frequently be attributed to some form of medical negligence.
What are the symptoms of severe sepsis?
Last time, we discussed how most physicians view sepsis as having three very distinct stages: mild sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock. We also discussed how patients must typically have a minimum of two out of four symptoms (i.e., confirmed/suspected infection, elevated respiratory rate, elevated heart rate, high/low temperature) in order to be diagnosed with mild sepsis.
As far as severe sepsis is concerned, a patient must not only show these underlying symptoms, but also show one of the following symptoms, which are often suggestive of organ failure:
It should be noted that even if a person recovers from a bout of severe sepsis, they will be at a much higher risk of developing an infection in the future.
What are the symptoms of septic shock?
A diagnosis of septic shock is made when a patient exhibits the symptoms of severe sepsis in addition to incredibly low blood pressure that is unresponsive to fluid replacement.
This is an incredibly serious development from a patient perspective as the mortality rate for septic shock is close to 50 percent.
Are there any types of tests that can be run to help detect sepsis?
Yes, medical experts indicate that physicians have a variety of exams at their disposal to help diagnose the underlying infection responsible for the sepsis, including blood tests, urine tests, and tests of both wound and respiratory secretions.
In addition, imaging scans such as x-rays, CT scans and MRIs can be used to help detect evidence of infections.
Are there any medications that are effective in treating sepsis?
Some of the frontline measures to treat sepsis include both intravenous antibiotics and vasopressors, which constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
Other medications that may be administered include insulin, corticosteroids, sedatives and painkillers.
It’s important to remember that sepsis is frequently the direct result of either a delayed diagnosis of an infection or a failure to properly treat an infection. If you suspect that either of these scenarios transpired during your treatment or the treatment of a loved one, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.
Source: The Mayo Clinic, “Sepsis,” Accessed Dec. 1, 2014; Sepsis Alliance, “Sepsis fact sheet,” Dec. 1, 2014