When you or a loved one go to the hospital, you do so because there is something wrong with you and you need a medical professional to fix it. Usually, that is exactly what they do.

Unfortunately, sometimes you go to the hospital and end up in a worse condition. One of the most common things that can happen to someone in a hospital setting to make them worse is contracting an infection. There are a number of ways this happens, but almost all of them are preventable.

The consequences of a hospital-acquired infection can be devastating. If you need a sepsis or infection attorney, you can count on The Weitz Firm to be by your side.

The Numbers

We should start out with the big statistic: medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the US, and those numbers do not seem to be improving.

One of the most common types of mistakes in a hospital setting is patients being exposed to situations in which they can acquire an infection.

The CDC defines these as “infections patients can get while receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility.” They go on to say that they are mostly preventable.

Did you know that:

  • Anyone admitted to a hospital has a five percent chance of contracting an infection (this can increase the hospital stay by nearly 18 days and thousands of dollars).
  • Almost 100,000 people die annually from hospital-acquired infections.

One of the main ways that these infections occur is a failure of healthcare staff (doctors, nurses, nurse aides) to properly monitor different treatments a patient is undergoing. The following must be monitored and maintained regularly:

  • Central lines
  • IV sites
  • Catheter sites
  • Surgical wound sites
  • Any other open wounds

Healthcare professionals should also take care to wash their hands after treating each patient in order to prevent infections from spreading.

We see an increase in hospital-acquired infections occurring outside of intensive care units, which means that healthcare staff may be less careful when the appearance of an emergency is over with. Just because a patient is no longer in critical condition does not mean that less care should be taken with their treatment.

If an infection is not treated quickly and properly, the infection can spread into a patient’s bloodstream, a condition also known as sepsis.

Sepsis can kill someone within hours. Each year, 1 in 3 people who die in the hospital have sepsis.

Defining Sepsis

Sepsis is a medical term used to describe an infection of the bloodstream that results in a cluster of symptoms. A significant drop in blood pressure, increase in heart rate and fever are all common signs of sepsis. To prevent or detect sepsis at the onsite look for symptoms like generalized body swelling, faster heart rate, reduced urine output, fever, and chills, decrease in platelet count, difficulty breathing, mental confusion, and hyperventilation.

The causes of sepsis are bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Those with a weak immune system, diagnosed with diabetes or cirrhosis, and wounds or injuries such as burns are most susceptible to infections.

Diagnosing sepsis can be extremely difficult mainly because signs and symptoms are caused by other disorders. There are patterns of tests that physicians use to try and pinpoint any underlying infections. Some of the most common tests and procedures administered to patients are blood tests, urine tests, wound culture tests, sputum culture tests, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, CT scans, and ultrasounds.

  • Blood samples are tested for everything like infections, clotting, oxygen levels, electrolyte imbalances, and liver or kidney function.
  • Urine tests are done to check for UTIs or urinary tract infections.
  • Wound culture tests are performed to determine the most suitable antibiotics
  • A sputum culture test is conducted to evaluate the type of germ causing infection.
  • X-rays check for infections within the lungs or other organs
  • Magnetic resonance imaging, MRIs identify infections of soft tissues
  • CT scans to monitor any existing infections within the abdomen- the appendix, pancreas, or bowel area.
  • Ultrasounds check for any infections in the gallbladder or ovaries.

Fortunately, there are preventative measures to follow in order to eliminate the chances of contracting sepsis or any other type of infection. As a medical professional it is important to administer vaccinations, as a patient stays up to date on your shots, and both medical teams and patients want to follow good hygiene practices.

Treatments for sepsis can be identified in a few ways. Medications, therapy, and nutrition have proven to have the best effects. The patient must be hospitalized and mechanical ventilation may be required depending on the severity of the infection. Antibiotics, vasopressors, and steroids are some of the most common medication treatments in eliminating sepsis. While intravenous therapy or inserting an IV to prevent dehydration has been known to have great results too. Nutrition is based on how the patient eats. A healthy, well-balanced diet will have a much better effect on one’s body in comparison to an unhealthy diet.

As previously mentioned, if left untreated, sepsis can have deadly and damaging results. This is why it is essential for everyone to do their part, practice good hygiene and take precautions with the utmost attention to detail. It doesn’t take long for sepsis to get a hold of an individual and depending on the patient and other illnesses or risk factors involved, it could only be a matter of days or hours before sepsis causes devastating outcomes particularly related to death.

What Happens Now

We know how devastating a hospital-acquired infection can be. It is not something you expected to happen to you when you went somewhere to receive medical care. Often, these infections are caused by the carelessness or negligence of the healthcare professionals you count on to make you better.

The Weitz Firm will thoroughly investigate your claim so we can begin working on getting you the compensation you deserve. When you need a sepsis or infection attorney in Norristown, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling 267-587-6240.

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