What is Sepsis?
When we have an infection, our immune systems will usually try to fight it off automatically. We may need help with this through medications, but our bodies are well equipped to handle most infections on their own. However sometimes, mainly while fighting a serious infection, our immune system will go into overdrive. The chemicals that our bodies normally release into the bloodstream to fight infections become unbalanced. During an extreme response to an infection, these unbalanced chemicals can cause potentially life-threatening damage to our organ systems. Instead of helping us get better, our bodies will work against us and make the infection worse. This process is known as sepsis.
Stages and Symptoms
Sepsis generally occurs in three stages of severity. The first stage, uncomplicated sepsis, is not harmful unless it progresses. Millions of people will experience uncomplicated sepsis, and many may not even need medical attention. This stage is often misdiagnosed as another type of infection, such as a urinary tract infection or staph, which unfortunately increases the risk of progression to the next stages. Severe sepsis, the second stage, requires treatment in the hospital. Around 750,000 Americans will experience severe sepsis each year. If it is not treated in a timely manner, it will likely progress to the final stage, septic shock. Without medical attention, septic shock will likely cause organ failure and eventual death.
Those experiencing any of the three stages of sepsis will have an infection and any of the following symptoms:
- High fever, usually above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Rapid or abnormal heartbeat, about 90 beats per minute or faster
- Rapid and/or shallow breaths, around 20 breaths per minute or more
- Generalized feelings of weakness and fatigue
- High blood sugar
- Increased white blood cell count
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden deterioration in mental status
- Urinating significantly less frequently, signaling organ failure
Individuals are more susceptible to sepsis if they are:
- Very old or very young
- Have a compromised immune system
- Have a medical condition that makes them easily sick, such as diabetes or cirrhosis
- Are hospitalized due to illness or injury
Sepsis occurs when a localized infection spreads to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. While any infection can lead to sepsis, some infections are more likely to cause septic reactions. This includes infections in the digestive system, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and infections in the kidney, bladder, or urinary tract. Sepsis cases are becoming more common due to the widespread and liberal use of antibiotics. Using antibiotics so often encourages the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which leaves patients more vulnerable to sepsis and other infection complications.
How We Can Help
Sepsis can cause health problems or injuries that require further medical attention in the future. For ex ample, septic reactions may cause blood clots in limbs, which may then require amputation. In the most extreme cases, septic shock can cause a patient to lose their life. If you or a loved one is coping with the devastating consequences of sepsis as a result of medical negligence, the person responsible needs to be held liable for their actions. At The Brothers Law Firm, we understand your pain and frustration during this time of need. We have represented numerous clients who have suffered serious health problems and even death as a result of sepsis or septic shock. We can help you understand your legal rights and determine the best options possible to ensure you and your family get the help you need. To get started, fill out our online form to request a free consultation or call us at 281-491-3635.