Study Shows Early Treatment of Sepsis Lowers Mortality Rate

Medical Malpractice

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on in-hospital care for sepsis (published May 21, 2017) found that every hour delayed in giving antibiotics or other key medical care resulted in an increase in chances of death by 4 percent.

Sepsis Can Be Very Deadly If Not Timely Treated

Sepsis is a widespread infection in the bloodstream.  It frequently begins with vague symptoms and can quickly become a medical emergency.  Sepsis occurs in over 1.5 million people every year in the United States and results in more than 250,000 deaths annually according to the CDC.

Blood Tests And Antibiotics

Blood testing to show the existence of a pathogen in the blood and broad-spectrum antibiotics are most frequently done in response to symptoms such as shivering, fever, cold or clammy skin, confusion, tachycardia (fast heart rate), shortness of breath, and/or extreme pain.

The key to treating sepsis is to recognizing the likelihood of sepsis.  Most patients who develop sepsis either developed it outside of the hospital or acquired an infection outside the hospital that eventually became septic.  The marker for sepsis in arterial blood tests is “lactate” (or lactic acid).  Lactic acid levels will be elevated if a person has a severe infection and is evidence of a diminished amount of oxygen in the blood.

Sepsis As A Missed Diagnosis

Sepsis can become a missed diagnosis if a patient is discharged thinking that the illness is a virus and will go away after running its course.  Sepsis, on the other hand, is not a virus and will cause death unless treated with antibiotics.  Sepsis can be a missed diagnosis at an ER, urgent care, or walk-in/primary care visit.  Sepsis should be considered any time that a patient has symptoms of a severe infection.

The study found that performing the 3-hour bundle (blood test for lactate) and the administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics were effective at treating patients with severe sepsis and septic shock in the emergency room.

Medical Malpractice Involving Sepsis

This one of those areas of medical malpractice where a near-miss is not going to be enough to sue a doctor or hospital for medical malpractice.  In the real world, a good malpractice case involving sepsis will involve a severe delay in diagnosis and/or treatment that results in either death or serious impairment.  This does not mean that a failure to recognize sepsis when before it becomes worse is not something to complain about.  In a “near-miss” case of failure to timely diagnose sepsis, a complaint to the hospital or the Florida Department of Health (click here for complaint form) may be appropriate.

Get An Opinion From A Medical Malpractice Attorney In Lakeland, Florida

If you or someone you know had sepsis but was not properly or timely diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, then you may have a case for medical malpractice.  If so, you should contact a Lakeland medical malpractice attorney to schedule your free consultation and case review.  There is no charge to find out whether you have a case or not.


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May 22, 2017