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Malpractice Regarding Failure to Timely Diagnose and Treat Sepsis

A recent article in Maryland’s legal newspaper, The Daily Record, titled “Md. hospitals take aim at costly, deadly sepsis,” correctly points out that hospitals must have the proper procedures in place to both detect and treat sepsis quickly. The article can be found here.

Sepsis is a complication of an infection and occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body that can damage organs, causing devastating organ failure. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, the patient’s blood pressure will drop dramatically, often resulting in the patient’s death. In a patient suffering from sepsis, every second counts as a delay of as little as an hour “could mean the difference between life and death.”

Some of the classic symptoms of early onset of sepsis include fever, elevated heart rate, elevated respiratory rate, rash, vomiting, diarrhea and confusion. Doctors encountering patients with these types of symptoms should immediately recognize sepsis and begin treating with antibiotics and intravenous fluids until a blood test either confirms or rules out the presence and progression of sepsis. In medical malpractice cases involving the failure to timely diagnose and treat the onset of sepsis, the defense often argues that the delay was not unreasonable. Proving that the delay caused unnecessary injury to the patient can be very complicated. Therefore, medical malpractice cases involving sepsis and septic shock should be assessed by an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

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