Most of us have probably heard of sepsis, but odds are it’s more common than you think – and despite its prevalence, medical professionals often overlook this life-threatening condition.
Sepsis develops from the body’s excessive or extreme response to an infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis occurs when a systemic infection – such as in the lungs, skin, or urinary tract – triggers a chain reaction and damaging immune response throughout the body.
Symptoms of sepsis include a high fever, rapid breathing, slurred speech, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, confusion, muscle pain, and diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Many of these symptoms are similar to the flu or a severe cold, but according to the Sepsis Alliance, the following acronym may prove helpful in making a distinction:
- T – Is your temperature higher or lower than normal?
- I – Have you recently experienced signs or symptoms of an infection?
- M – Are you experiencing mental decline, such as becoming sleepy, confused, or difficult to rouse?
- E – Are you experiencing extreme pain or discomfort – a feeling you may die?
If individuals do not receive timely and appropriate treatment for sepsis, they can experience tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In the United States, approximately 1.7 million adults develop sepsis annually, and approximately 270,000 of those individuals die. Sepsis is also a top cause of death in hospitals, with JAMA research showing sepsis may have been a factor in the deaths of more than half of the patients they studied between 2010 and 2012.
But recent data indicates sepsis may be even more common than many people realize – and medical professionals often misdiagnose or overlook the condition. The results of this neglect can be deadly. In fact, international research indicates sepsis may be responsible for up to 20 percent of deaths worldwide. This is more than twice the amount of previous estimates.
That’s why, in the event of a medical emergency such as sepsis, you are your own best ally. If you are experiencing a combination of the symptoms described above, don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your health care provider you’re concerned about sepsis. It could mean the difference between life and death.
If you or a loved one has been injured by sepsis as a result of medical malpractice, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Contact Lowenthal & Abrams today for a free consultation.