Some of the first signs of sepsis are fever, feeling cold, having clammy skin or discomfort. Influenza, gastroenteritis and sepsis all share these symptoms, which sometimes lead to a misdiagnosis. Putting off treatment for sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, septic shock or even death.
What causes sepsis?
When the body detects an infection, it attempts to fight it. Sepsis happens when the body’s response to an illness goes out of control and overwhelms the organs, damaging them in the process.
Sepsis can happen to anyone who already has an infection. It often results from a bacterial infection in the lungs, skin, urinary tract, digestive tract or central nervous system. But sepsis may also develop from other infections, like COVID-19 or hospital-acquired infections (HAI).
A hospital exposes patients and visitors to a wide range of bacteria. Unfortunately, many people develop sepsis after going to a hospital for a checkup or treatment. Patients who need to undergo invasive medical procedures and those with weak immune systems, such as babies, the elderly and pregnant women, are the most likely to acquire an HAI and develop sepsis.
Is misdiagnosing sepsis medical malpractice?
Most hospitals have protocols in place for identifying and treating sepsis. But if hospital staff fail to comply with these guidelines, the patient may have a case for medical practice. Sadly, misdiagnosis usually happens when doctors and hospital staff are overworked.
Ignoring or missing signs of infection or sepsis may worsen a patient’s condition or put them in a life-threatening situation. According to research, every hour that sepsis treatment and care are delayed increases the risk of death. Unfortunately, sepsis claims thousands of lives in the United States every year.
Anyone experiencing worsening infection symptoms should seek medical attention. When visiting a health care facility, wearing a mask and practicing good hygiene is always a good idea. Moreover, it may help to ask the doctor if the infection could develop into sepsis.