Failure to diagnose sepsis can be deadly

When your body develops an infection, the infection can usually be treated by a simple regimen of antibiotics. You simply go to your doctor, receive a prescription and take the medication as prescribed. But not all infections are this easy to treat. Some can have serious complications.

One example is sepsis. During an infection, the body will send infection-fighting chemicals into your bloodstream. But the same chemicals the fight infections can also cause inflammation in other parts of your body. This condition, called sepsis, can be deadly.

The symptoms of sepsis

There are three main warning signs of sepsis. Every doctor should be able to recognize these symptoms and correctly diagnose them as sepsis. The symptoms are:

  1. An abnormally low body temperature or a fever.
  2. Fast breathing–over 20 breaths per minute.
  3. A heart rate of over 90 beats per minute.

When a doctor fails to diagnose sepsis

Sepsis can develop from the mildest of infections, like one resulting from a small scrape. It can also develop from infections that develop in hospitals. Hospitals have an obligation to provide patients with a safe, clean environment. If a hospital or other healthcare facility’s conditions enable patients to contract sepsis, there may be legal consequences.

Sepsis is not uncommon, yet many health professionals fail to accurately diagnose it. This means that the condition may worsen while the patient scrambles for the correct diagnosis. In its early stages, sepsis can typically be treated with antibiotics. But if the condition progresses, it can be deadly.

If a doctor fails to diagnose sepsis in a timely manner and the patient’s condition worsens as a result, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit. Patients who are injured by a sepsis misdiagnosis frequently have the legal right to receive damages. It is important to hold doctors accountable for misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a potentially deadly condition like sepsis.