Like many people, you were probably nervous before your surgery. Whether it is a routine procedure or a life-saving operation, surgery is often frightening and its recovery painful. Your doctor may have reviewed the risks and explained what to expect in the days and weeks of your recovery. However, you weren't prepared for what happened.
Perhaps a nurse failed to check your vital signs or a doctor ignored the possibility of infection. Maybe the hospital sent you home with a fever after your operation. Whatever the circumstances, when your medical team finally diagnosed your severe sepsis, there was likely a flurry of activity, with doctors and nurses racing against time to stop the spread of the illness. If only they had sprung into action earlier, you may not have suffered so badly.
The rapid progression of infection
Of the 1 million Americans whose infections turn septic each year, more than 258,000 die. When sepsis progresses to septic shock, you have only a 50 percent chance of survival. Almost 70 percent of septic cases involve seniors, but infants and those with compromised immune systems are also particularly susceptible. Those undergoing surgical procedures are at risk from catheters, breathing tubes and other invasive devices.
Symptoms of septic infection include a high or low temperature and rapid breathing. Medical professionals sometimes miss these subtle signs and may not have diagnosed your sepsis until more serious symptoms occurred, including:
- Weakness, altered mental state or unconsciousness
- Abnormal heartbeat or breathing
- Low platelet count
- Low urine emission
- Drop in body temperature
When your blood pressure plummets, you are in septic shock. Your organs may begin to fail, and doctors may need to remove the infected part of your body.
The long, slow road to recovery
If your medical team failed to notice or attend to the symptoms of sepsis, you now suffer the consequences. When an infection reaches the septic stage, quick action is essential. Sepsis can turn deadly in a matter of days or even hours. If you suffered organ failure or tissue damage because of undiagnosed sepsis, you are likely living with physical and emotional pain and perhaps disfigurement. One study estimates that a person fortunate enough to survive a septic scare may have another 18 months of recovery ahead.
In addition to your health concerns, you may also be dealing with financial worries. Medical bills may be piling up, and your illness has likely made it impossible for you to return to work. For help in dealing with these issues, you have the right to contact a Texas attorney for advice about pursuing a malpractice claim against the medical professionals who missed the symptoms of this potentially fatal infection.