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How Inadequate Hospital Care Can Cause Sepsis

Doctor holding stethoscope

Sepsis is a blood complication caused by the body’s own overreaction to an infection. Essentially, white blood cells and other antiviral, antibacterial chemicals are released into the bloodstream in an incorrect balance or an abundant amount. As a result, vital organs can become damaged and deteriorate, possibly resulting in death.

While sepsis can occur anytime the body needs to fight a severe infection, it has a clear connection to hospitalization in many cases. When patients are exposed to incorrect treatments in the hospital or hospital malpractice, they may suffer a bout of sepsis as a result, similar to contracting other hospital-acquired infections.

How does sepsis commonly form in hospital patients?

  • Intravenous hydration: Most patients who require an extended hospital stay will be given intravenous (IV) hydration to ensure they are receiving enough nutrients. However, the IV drip can do more harm than good if the equipment is unclean when used. A dirty IV could cause a blood infection that triggers sepsis.
  • Catheter use: Catheters can also become extremely problematic when improper medical care is given. Catheters are used to relieve a patient’s bladder without requiring them to leave their bed, which is often necessary for severely ill, elderly, or otherwise disabled patients. It may go without saying that catheters can become contaminated with biological waste in only a matter of hours. They should be replaced often to minimize a patient’s exposure to their own waste. Failure to change or use catheters correctly can trigger a dangerous bladder infection, which may cause a sepsis reaction in the blood.

Furthermore, hospitalized patients are already in precarious health situations, hence why they are admitted to the hospital at all. They may experience weakened immune systems due to other diseases or recent surgeries. The issues can become compounded, increasing a patient’s risk of sepsis, making it all the more important for hospital staff and nurses to adhere to the utmost medical standards when caring for admitted patients.

What are the Symptoms of Sepsis?

As a complication of the bloodstream, sepsis can cause a variety of symptoms. The most severe symptom of sepsis is organ failure, which may be partial or complete. Not all cases of sepsis will be severe enough to cause organ failure, yet they are not necessarily any less of a concern.

Mild to moderate symptoms of sepsis in a hospitalized patient may include:

  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Fever and chills
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Hypothermia
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Skin discoloration
  • Rapid pulse

If your loved one experienced any of these symptoms while hospitalized but was not diagnosed with sepsis, then you should consider bringing their medical record to another medical provider for further review. They may be able to conclude that your loved one suffered from sepsis caused by unsafe hospital care.

Filing a Lawsuit for Sepsis Complications

You have the right to expect safe and adequate medical care whenever you are hospitalized. If there are reasons to believe that your sepsis or that of a loved one was caused due to a hospital error, then you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney. They can help review your case and determine if you should file a claim against the hospital or medical group responsible for your care during your hospitalization.