Sepsis and septic shock are potentially life-threatening complications that can arise from an infection. When an infection in the body goes untreated or mistreated, sepsis can set in and trigger inflammatory reactions throughout the body. These reactions can damage multiple organs and result in system failure when not treated promptly.
Sepsis alone is a dangerous problem, but it can progress to septic shock, which can be fatal. Early treatment and a little knowledge about sepsis and septic shock could save your life or the life of someone you love.
Immune system health is important
Sepsis and septic shock can develop in anyone, but they are more likely to impact a person who has a weakened immune system. The elderly, cancer patients, those who've had a transplant or have an invasive device also have an increased risk of contracting these conditions. Patients who have a drug-resistant bacterium also have an increased danger of becoming septic.
Diagnosis and treatment are crucial
Many symptoms should clue a doctor into pinpointing that a patient might have sepsis or septic shock. As the condition worsens, the symptoms become more pronounced. Here are some common signs:
- Decreased platelet count
- Changes in metal status
- Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
- Rapid or abnormal heart rate
- Temperature below 96.8 or above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Abdominal pain
- Very low blood pressure that doesn't increase with intravenous fluid replacement
When a patient presents with these symptoms, the doctor should order a battery of tests to fully diagnose the condition. These tests often include blood work, urinalysis, imaging scans and an analysis of wound or respiratory secretions. Once a diagnosis is made, the patient will receive intravenous antibiotics and possibly vasopressors. The antibiotics should be started within six hours of the onset of symptoms in order to be most effective.
It is also possible that the patient will need additional supportive care. This can include dialysis, oxygen and intravenous fluids. In some instances, surgical care to remove a collection of pus in an abscess is necessary.
Of course, you probably count on your doctor to know these signs so they can diagnose the issue and begin treatment. When the doctor misses the signs, however, you could suffer serious harm or even die from this condition. Medical malpractice claims for those who are living and wrongful death claims on behalf of those who have passed away may be an appropriate avenue to seek recourse for your damages and losses.