About 1.7 million people around the country develop sepsis each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 350,000 of them never recover. Sepsis occurs when the immune system overreacts to an infection, and it is the cause of about one in three hospital deaths in the United States. The infections that lead to sepsis usually start in the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, skin or lungs, and they are often missed by Illinois physicians or are misdiagnosed.
Anybody can develop sepsis, but elderly patients with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the condition. The most common symptoms of sepsis include an elevated heart rate, disorientation, pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and clammy skin. When sepsis is not diagnosed correctly and treated in a timely manner, it can cause organ failure, tissue damage and death in a matter of days.
Sepsis caused by medical malpractice
Doctors may face medical malpractice lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who developed sepsis if they fail to diagnose the underlying infection or misdiagnose the condition itself. In September 2022, a jury in Maine awarded a medical malpractice plaintiff $5 million in damages because his doctors failed to diagnose an infection that went on to cause sepsis and acute respiratory failure. The jury heard that the man’s doctor did not order the necessary tests because he thought his patient was suffering from the flu.
Early treatment is crucial
Infections that get worse instead of better should be considered serious. Sepsis responds well to antibiotics, but early treatment is crucial. If sepsis is not treated quickly, it can cause permanent injury or death. Sepsis kills thousands of people in the United States each year. Many of those lives could be saved by early diagnosis and treatment.