Frequently Asked Questions About Sepsis
Sepsis FAQ: I Was Diagnosed with Sepsis–Can I Sue the Hospital?
What is sepsis and is it serious?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sepsis is the body’s extreme inflammatory response to an infection that occurs when harmful germs, bacteria, and toxins enter the blood, skin, lungs, urinary tract, or other tissue and cause an infection. If that infection is not treated, it can spread and cause sepsis.
The CDC classifies sepsis as a life-threatening medical emergency, sometimes resulting in the need for amputation, organ failure, and death.
Sepsis has a remarkably high mortality rate; about 50% of the 1.5 million people who contract it go into septic shock.
What Causes Sepsis?
Any infection can cause sepsis, but the most common types of infections that eventually lead to sepsis are:
- Pneumonia and Other Lung Infections
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Abdominal Infections
- Bloodstream Infections
- Kidney Infections
- Skin Infections
According to the CDC, certain populations face an increased risk of contracting sepsis. These groups include:
- Any person with a chronic medical condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, and kidney disease
- Adults age 65 or older
- Children under the age of 1
- Any person with a compromised immune system
Can Medical Negligence Cause Sepsis?
Medical negligence, including the failure to diagnose and treat infections that lead to septic shock, is common. Some patients enter the hospital with infections, but sepsis can also be caused by unsanitary hospital conditions and practices. Poor equipment sterilization procedures, insufficient air filtration, inadequate treatment of surgery wounds and bedsores, and overburdened medical staff can increase a patient’s risk of developing sepsis.
What Do You Need to Prove to Win Your Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
To prevail in your medical malpractice lawsuit, you will need to prove all four elements of a medical negligence claim. Specifically, you will need to show:
- Duty: First, you will need to show that you had a relationship the hospital’s medical staff such that they had a duty to treat you as their patient. This will require you to look through all medical records about your treatment and sort out which doctors and nurses were responsible for your care. You will need to determine who was present at the hospital each day and what each staff members’ assignments were with respect to your patient directives.
- Breach: Second, you will need to show that the healthcare facility staff breached their duty to care for you. To do so, you will need to determine how staff members treated or failed to treat you and demonstrate why those actions were unreasonable. Reasonability is a legal concept that considers how a medical professional of ordinary training, knowledge, and care would have acted.
- Cause: Third, you will need to show that the medical staff’s breach of their duties to you is what caused your sepsis. The healthcare facility must be directly responsible for your injuries.
- Damages: Finally, you must prove that the sepsis caused you to suffer damages such as additional medical expenses and other losses that you would not otherwise have experienced (for example, lost wages if you were unable to work).
All four medical negligent elements must be proven by using sources such as medical charts, hospital records, surgery footage, intake and discharge forms, care instructions, vital sign logs, bills, and other documents. This is where a medical malpractice lawyer can help. Our lawyers work closely with an on-staff doctor to review medical records (at no charge) and determine if all four elements are present in order to build a case.
Did You or Someone You Love Suffer Septic Shock?
If you or someone you love was treated for an infection that led to sepsis or death, call the experienced Medical Malpractice Team at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation today. For over 60 years, our lawyers have helped victims of negligent hospital care fight insurance companies and healthcare facilities. We recently obtained a $5 million settlement for our client in a medical negligence case and if you received negligent medical care, we want to help you get what you deserve as well.
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