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Prompt diagnosis and treatment of sepsis is key to saving lives

When a patient goes to a hospital for medical attention the focus is generally on receiving care that will improve their condition. While in many cases this is exactly what happens, there are some risks tied to hospital stays. Infections like sepsis are one of those risks.

Also called blood poisoning, this is an issue throughout the nation that as a result of the aging population is only getting worse. It can occur in a variety of situations including after surgery or even when someone has chicken pox. Though a normal part of the body’s immune response to fight off bacteria, when the response gets out of control, multiple organ failure due to widespread inflammation can occur.

In its early stages the condition is often difficult to diagnose since its symptoms—shortness of breath, fever and cough—are present with many other ailments. In addition, there is not a blood or beside test that can quickly be administered to diagnose it.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association recently reviewed malpractice cases that closed between the years of 2009 and 2013. In its review, the CMPA found a total of 327 cases that involved sepsis. Cited as a factor in 75 percent of the cases the study looked at, was “inadequate patient assessment.” This is of note since of the cases looked at, 204 resulted in death.

According to a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, the number of deaths due to sepsis is declining. The reason behind this is faster administration of treatment through initiatives such as the creation of “sepsis teams” at hospitals. While this is undoubtedly good news, there will likely continue to be situations where it, and other infections, are not diagnosed as a result of inadequate patient assessment. In those situations a medical malpractice lawyer may be of assistance in filing a claim.

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