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Death can result from a failure to timely diagnose sepsis

When you entrust the life of your loved one to a surgeon, you expect him or her to receive the best care possible. A successful surgical procedure gives you a sense of relief -- until your loved one's condition takes a turn for the worse.

The doctor told me my family member died from sepsis. What does that mean?

That means that your family member contracted an infection that led to sepsis. This serious medical condition puts your life and future health at risk. An infection in the body causes the immune system to react by sending white blood cells to combat it. In sepsis, this immune system response triggers inflammation that restricts blood flow that ultimately damages organs without timely medical intervention.

Sepsis spreads rapidly, and if left unchecked endangers your life through organ failure, low blood pressure and a weakened heart. Treatment needs to begin immediately to avoid lifelong or deadly health consequences. By the time doctors diagnosed your loved one with sepsis, the damage to one or more organ systems more than likely already occurred.

How did my loved one get sepsis?

Sepsis only occurs when a bacteria is introduced into the body. Invasive medical procedures often provide bacteria with a way into your body. Coupled with a weakened immune system, the bacteria create a perfect storm leading to sepsis. If your loved one suffered from one of the following chronic conditions, the chances of sepsis increased:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Any other chronic illness

In the alternative, if he or she suffered some sort of physical trauma or a severe burn, the chances of contracting sepsis rose as well.

Why did it take so long for the doctor to make the right diagnosis?

The symptoms of sepsis can mimic other, less dangerous, ailments. However, if the potential for contracting sepsis is high due to a surgical procedure or other risk factors, your family member's condition required careful monitoring. Failure to recognize the signs, or to dismiss them as something else, more than likely delayed diagnosis and put your loved one at greater risk.

Treating sepsis often requires a stay in the Intensive Care Unit and aggressive antibiotic treatment even when no long-term or permanent damage results from the experience. Unfortunately, the delay in diagnosis and subsequent treatment probably contributed to the death of your loved one.

What are your legal options if negligence played a roll in your loved one's condition or death?

Consider exploring your legal options if you believe the medical personnel responsible for the care of your family member failed to provide the best care possible and failed to meet current standards of care, which led to your loved one contracting sepsis. Because medical professionals routinely hold people's lives in their hands, their mistakes often result in catastrophic health consequences for victims and their families.

Allowing even one medical professional's errors to go unchecked risks the lives of every patient with which he or she comes into contact. A successful medical malpractice claim that established negligence not only provides you with the financial resources needed to compensate you for your loss, but also often helps prevent future mistakes.

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