Few people like to go to the hospital, and if you've ever been to a hospital either visiting or as a patient, you might have feared that you could get sick just from being there. The sad reality is that you could contract a bacterial or viral infection in a hospital setting, which is supposed to guard against illness. The source of such infections could come from exposure to a patient, unsanitary conditions or unsterile equipment.
If caught early enough, most infections resolve with treatment, such as a course of antibiotics. However, if a doctor fails to diagnose an infection within a reasonable amount of time, it could turn into a life-threatening case of sepsis.
Does every infection turn into sepsis?
No. Sepsis happens when your body's immune system essentially overreacts to a threat. The body releases too many immunity chemicals into the blood, which cause leaky blood vessels, inflammation and blood clots. As you can imagine, this reaction compromises blood flow, which could deny your organs oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to organ failure and possibly even death.
Sepsis is a secondary condition.
Without a primary infection, sepsis doesn't happen. Another medical condition, such as a urinary tract infection, appendicitis or some other infection, precipitates sepsis. On the other hand, a surgical procedure could introduce bacteria into your bloodstream and lead to sepsis if it's allowed to go untreated.
Anyone can get sepsis.
Anyone can potentially suffer from sepsis, but if you suffer from any of the following, your risk for contracting sepsis could be higher:
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Severe trauma
- Severe burns
- Advanced age
- Compromised immune system
Children and those with other chronic illnesses also risk contracting sepsis.
What outward signs indicate sepsis?
If you exhibit the following signs, your doctor should order further tests for sepsis:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
Blood, urine and sputum tests that indicate the following could result in a diagnosis of sepsis:
- Elevated white blood cell count (blood)
- Elevated lactate level (blood)
- Infectious agents (urine/sputum)
A CT scan or X-ray might help determine the origin of the infection. Treatments for sepsis vary depending on degree, but nearly all cases require antibiotics.
Many people who suffer from even severe sepsis make a full recovery. Those with chronic conditions, however, could suffer organ damage. Even those who recover tend to risk further infections in the future. Research also indicates an increased risk of death among those who suffer from sepsis even if they recover.
Damages due to sepsis
Even with a full recovery, the results of sepsis could leave you with extensive monetary losses such as lost income and medical expenses, among other things. If you contracted the initial infection from a hospital environment or a surgical procedure, you might have recourse against the medical facility and any medical professionals responsible for your illness. Furthermore, if your doctor failed to timely diagnose the infection in the early stages of sepsis, he or she might have breached the current standard of care and caused your harm.
In either case, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses related to your sepsis. Talking to a Texas medical malpractice attorney can provide you with the information you need regarding your legal options. If appropriate and you decide to pursue a claim, your attorney can assist help ensure that you receive the maximum compensation possible.