Sepsis, often referred to as the “silent killer,” is a life-threatening condition that can have devastating consequences if not diagnosed and treated promptly. In the context of medical malpractice in Georgia, sepsis cases are sadly not uncommon. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what sepsis is, its risk factors, the challenges in diagnosing it, and how Georgia medical malpractice law firms can help victims of sepsis misdiagnosis and related negligence seek justice.
What Is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a severe medical condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection spirals out of control, leading to widespread inflammation and organ dysfunction. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds and is a leading cause of death in hospitals across the United States, including Georgia.
Understanding Sepsis Risk Factors
Several factors can increase a person’s risk of developing sepsis:
- Infections: Sepsis often begins with an infection, such as a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or an infected wound.
- Age: The very young and the elderly are more susceptible to sepsis due to weaker immune systems.
- Chronic Illness: Individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, or HIV have a higher risk of sepsis.
- Weakened Immune System: Conditions or treatments that weaken the immune system, such as chemotherapy, steroids, or organ transplants, can make sepsis more likely.
- Recent Hospitalization: Hospital-acquired infections can lead to sepsis, especially if healthcare-associated infections are not managed properly.
The guidelines for diagnosis of sepsis are based on the presence of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and infection. SIRS is a group of clinical findings that indicate inflammation throughout the body. These findings include:
- Temperature greater than 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or less than 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Heart rate greater than 90 beats per minute
- Respiratory rate greater than 20 breaths per minute or arterial carbon dioxide pressure less than 32 mmHg
- White blood cell count greater than 12,000 cells per cubic millimeter or less than 4,000 cells per cubic millimeter, or greater than 10% immature neutrophils
If a patient has two or more SIRS criteria and evidence of infection, they are diagnosed with sepsis.
Sepsis and Medical Malpractice in Georgia
In Georgia, medical malpractice related to sepsis can occur in various forms:
- Misdiagnosis: Failure to recognize sepsis symptoms or mistaking them for a less severe condition is common. Sometimes this happens because the clinical information needed (temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and white blood cell count) simply isn’t obtained. Other times, the information is obtained, but ignored.
- Delayed Treatment: Once diagnosed, sepsis requires immediate treatment with antibiotics and other supportive care. Any delay in treatment can result in organ failure or death.
Seeking Legal Recourse
Victims of sepsis-related medical malpractice in Georgia have the right to seek compensation for their suffering and losses. A qualified Georgia medical malpractice law firm can help families affected by sepsis-related negligence pursue legal remedies, which may include:
- Compensation for medical expenses, including hospitalization and ongoing care
- Reimbursement for lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Wrongful death compensation for families who have lost a loved one due to sepsis-related negligence
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that demands swift and accurate diagnosis and treatment. When healthcare providers fail to meet the standard of care, resulting in sepsis-related medical malpractice, victims and their families deserve justice. A reputable Georgia medical malpractice law firm can be a lifeline, guiding affected individuals through the legal process and helping them secure the compensation they need to rebuild their lives after the devastating impact of sepsis-related negligence. Contact us today to get started.