Sepsis 101: What Hospital Patients Should Know

Although hospitals should be very clean in order to protect vulnerable patients, they are actually often riddled with bacteria. This is why so many patients end up getting infections and suffering serious complications during their hospital stays. In fact, one of the most common bacterial infections suffered in hospitals is sepsis, which is a serious illness that affects over a million Americans and claims up to 500,000 lives every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Understanding Sepsis

When medical professionals fail to wash their hands or fail to use proper protocols for sterilizing central lines and catheters, patients can suffer infections such as sepsis. Sepsis is actually the body’s reaction to an infection. When the body’s immune system releases chemicals to fight an infection but causes inflammation instead, it means that the body wasn’t able to fight off the infection normally. As a result, sepsis develops, which can cause organ failure, tissue damage, blood clots, heart problems, and even death. According to Sepsis.org, “Every two minutes someone dies from sepsis in the U.S.—that’s more than from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined.”

Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis

Although the first signs of sepsis are subtle and may even seem like the flu, the conditions can be life-threatening. This is why it is vital that people—especially hospital patients who have invasive procedures—educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of sepsis. If sepsis is recognized early on, it is treatable and lives can be saved. Sepsis.org urges people to watch for a combination of the following symptoms:

  • S – Shiver, fever, or very cold
  • E – Extreme pain or general discomfort
  • P – Pale or discolored skin
  • S – Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused
  • I – “I feel like I might die.”
  • S – Short of breath

What Victims of Sepsis Should Do

If you were a victim of sepsis caused by hospital negligence or if you believe your sepsis was misdiagnosed by a medical professional, you may have rights to a medical malpractice claim. It is important that you contact an attorney who is experienced in medical malpractice to evaluate your case. At our law firm, we want to answer your questions and help you seek justice, so we are offering a free initial consultation and a free book, Do I Have a Case? A Patient’s Guide to Virginia Medical Malpractice Law.