Hospital acquired infections are a serious problem in the United States. It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that every year there are over 1.7 million cases of hospital acquired infections. Of all the people who contract one of these infections, about 99,000 die each year. Of all the types of hospital acquired infections, the most major type is a blood infection.
Sepsis is a bacterial blood infection that affects as many as 750,000 people every year in the United States. About 2 percent of patients admitted to healthcare facilities will contract this type of infection. This infection occurs when the immune system attempts to respond to an infection. Chemicals in the blood that are supposed to fight the infection will instead cause an inflammation throughout the body. This is a very serious problem as it can affect and damage organs. Due to the inflammation, the blood can clot when it should not, resulting in difficulty for the body when it comes to receiving the necessary oxygen and nutrients. Septic shock can occur in the worst cases. When this occurs the organs start to fail.
Causes of Sepsis
The bacteria that causes sepsis can enter the body through lacerations in the skin or through catheters or IVs. The means for the bacteria’s entry into the body, and the bacteria itself can be found in hospitals. Additionally, some people are more susceptible to contracting sepsis than others, such as people with weak immune systems including those being treated for cancer. The elderly and infants are also at greater risk.
Common symptoms of sepsis include:
- Rapid pulse and breathing
- Fever or low body temperature
- Decrease in urination
It is incredibly that medical professionals act fast in cases of sepsis if the patient is going to have a good chance of recovering. Vigilance is required so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. Testing the blood for bacteria or administering an X-ray or CT scan can help to determine if a patient is suffering from sepsis. If it is determined that a patient is suffering from sepsis, treatment can start.
An antibiotic may be administered so that the bacteria can be killed. An IV should also be administered to give the patient fluid so that blood pressure will be regulated. Oxygen may need to be administered as well. In serious cases of sepsis, surgery could be required to clean the infection area. The death rate for sepsis is quite high at 20 percent. Those that do survive are oftentimes left with permanent organ damage.
Septic Shock is an extreme form of sepsis with a significantly higher death rate of 60 percent. Once contracted, the patient’s blood pressure plummets. Toxins are released by the bacteria in the body into the blood stream. This leads to tissue and organ damage and low blood pressure. Early indications of septic shock include high or low temperature, rapid heartbeat, skin rash, or low blood pressure. A blood test can be administered to determine whether this is happening.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice that involves sepsis or septic shock, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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