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The failure to diagnose sepsis

Sepsis is a potentially deadly condition that kills about half of all people who get it. In the U.S. each year, around 250,000 die from the disease. People are much likelier to beat it if they are treated early, but the condition is often not diagnosed by doctors and hospitals in Ohio and around the country.

Sepsis occurs when the body overreacts to an infection in the bloodstream. If a person suffers an injury, and bacteria is introduced into the bloodstream, it is possible for the bacteria to spread throughout the body. The body may then have an extremely strong immune response, which damages the person’s tissues and interferes with his or her blood flow. A corresponding drop in blood pressure may then lead to the person’s organs failing and ultimately death.

One of the issues leading to a failure to diagnose sepsis is that some of the symptoms are similar to those found in other conditions. People who have sepsis may present with fever or chills, elevated respirations and heart rates, pain, discolored or pale skin and confusion. When a person has been injured, emergency room staff are supposed to screen for sepsis, but they do not always diagnose it correctly.

Not every failure to diagnose a disease constitutes actionable medical malpractice. It must be established that such error constituted a lack of adherence to the requisite standard of care by the health care practitioner or facility. An attorney will attempt to determine this through a review of the patient’s electronic hospital records and by obtaining the opinion of one or more medical experts.