Can sepsis lead to medical malpractice claims?

Being in the hospital can be an upsetting and frightening experience for anyone, regardless of why they are there in the first place. And while we expect doctors and nurses to help us feel better in the sometimes, patients get worse.

For instance, people with untreated infections can develop sepsis, which is a life-threatening response to infection. People in hospitals can be at an especially at risk for sepsis because they might have weakened immune systems or struggle with chronic medical conditions that lead to more frequent infections.

Challenges of diagnosing and treating sepsis

As this article from the CDC notes, sepsis can have numerous symptoms, and they can vary from patient to patient. Some patients might have a high heart rate, fever and extreme pain while another person feels disoriented and very cold. The symptoms can also point to other conditions besides sepsis. As such, it can be difficult to diagnose sepsis right away, which presents problems with regard to regard to treatment.

The most effective way to treat sepsis is to start antibiotics and treat the infection immediately. Patients might also need surgery, oxygen and IV fluids. If a patient does not get treatment right away, he or she may not survive. 

Is sepsis grounds for medical malpractice?

Sepsis is not always the result of any negligence or misconduct. However, in cases where a patient developed sepsis after hospital staff neglected, misdiagnosed or subjected him or her to unhygienic conditions, there may be grounds for a malpractice claim. There may also be legal consequences if doctors deviated from standard practices for treating sepsis with fatal results.

It is devastating any time a person gets sick or passes away in the hospital. While all adverse events won't lead to legal action and damages, there are some cases when these claims are appropriate. Understanding your legal options in these situations can help you make informed decisions and protect your rights.

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