Most people naturally think of the hospital as a place where seriously injured and ill people can go to receive specialized medical treatment. With the help of an array of specialized equipment, skilled nurses, physicians, and other medical care providers, hospitals are indeed responsible for saving and improving the lives of thousands of patients every day.
It’s far less likely that you think of the hospital as a place to go and become sicker than you were before you entered, but, unfortunately, it does happen. In this article, we’ll discuss sepsis and how it can be contracted in a hospital.
What Is Sepsis?
Sepsis is the human body’s extreme response to an infection. Normally, when an infection develops, our bodies release chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the intruder. However, the immune system sometimes stops working correctly and starts fighting itself rather than the infection. This is how sepsis starts, and it can ultimately lead to septic shock. Sepsis is extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Sepsis (including septic shock) can cause organ failure, damage to tissues, and death.
What Are the Symptoms of Sepsis?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), patients with sepsis may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Elevated heart rate
- Disorientation or confusion
- Extreme level of pain or discomfort
- Fever, shivers, or feeling cold
- Shortness of breath
- Sweaty or clammy skin
How Common Is Sepsis and How Is it Treated?
The CDC reports that 1.7 million or more American adults develop sepsis every year. Almost 270,000 adults die each year from sepsis. One-third of patients who die in hospitals have sepsis.
Sepsis needs to be identified and treated as quickly as possible. Medical professionals typically use antibiotics to treat sepsis. It is also important to identify and treat the source of the underlying infection. Patients may also receive oxygen and IVs. Kidney dialysis, surgery, and assisted breathing are sometimes necessary.
Most treatment takes place in a hospital intensive care unit. In fact, Sepsis.org cites research identifying sepsis as the most expensive inpatient treatment in U.S. hospitals. There are over 1.5 million sepsis hospitalizations per year, with an average cost of $18,000 per hospital stay.
Can Sepsis Develop from a Hospital Stay?
Absolutely. Sepsis develops from infection, and infections can and do occur in hospitals. According to Health.gov, 1 out of 25 hospital inpatients has an infection that is related to his or her hospital care. Infections can develop from many causes related to hospitals and healthcare workers, including the following examples:
- Infected surgical sites
- Infected injection sites
- Failure to properly clean healthcare settings and equipment
- Improper use of antibiotics
- Infected healthcare workers
What Happens if You Develop Sepsis Due to the Negligence of a Hospital or Healthcare Worker?
Hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other individuals and entities that provide healthcare are required by law to meet the applicable standard of care. If they fail to do so, and their negligence causes harm to a patient, the patient is entitled to recover appropriate damages caused by the negligence.
Call with Questions
If you’ve developed sepsis as a result of hospitalization, you likely have many questions about your rights. Please call us at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, and one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will be happy to answer them from you. And if you need additional assistance, we can assist you in investigating all of the circumstances surrounding your claim. We have spent many years representing Oregon medical malpractice victims because we strongly believe that the only way to ensure safety for everyone is to hold accountable those who do not meet the standard of care required by the law.