What Causes Sepsis? February 7, 2013.

What Is Sepsis?

As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states, sepsis occurs when the body releases chemicals to fend off an infection.

"In hospitalized patients, common sites of initial infection include IV lines, surgical incisions, urinary catheters, and bed sores," per WebMD. "The infection can begin anywhere bacteria or other infectious agents can enter the body." This is why it’s imperative that hospitals use proper sterilization techniques and monitor their patients. Doctors see dozens of patients per day. Neglecting proper hygiene can spread bacteria to vulnerable patients.

Often, the infection begins in the bones, bowel, gallbladder, kidneys, liver, lungs, or skin. It could also manifest as meningitis in the brain. Sepsis causes the patient’s blood pressure to drop, which causes organs to shut down. As a result, the patient may suffer kidney, heart, or brain damage, or he or she could die.

Sepsis Symptoms

"It’s important to look for the warning signs of sepsis," Sepsis Alliance states. "Spotting these symptoms early could prevent the body from entering septic shock, and could save a life."

Those warning signs include:

  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Decreased urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fever/warm skin
  • High blood sugar (if the patient isn’t diabetic)
  • Increased heart rate (greater than 90 beats per minute)
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Nausea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rash
  • Shaking
  • Swelling

"A person with sepsis will look very sick," NIH states.

To determine whether the patient in fact has sepsis, a doctor should check the patient’s blood pressure, kidney function, platelet and white blood cell count; he or she should also see if the patient has bacteria in his or her body fluids. An X-ray or CT scan can help pinpoint the cause of the underlying infection.

Who’s Most at Risk for Developing Sepsis?

Those with a weakened immune system are the most susceptible to developing an infection and sepsis. This includes patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes.

A Look at One Sepsis Lawsuit Settlement

"When I took [my mother] in for surgery, there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. Nothing," says client Cathy S. But fifteen hours later, she was gone. "She passed away at University Hospital due to septic shock from a kidney stone and a urinary tract infection. The doctor performing the surgery failed to give her an antibiotic. … She should have had an antibiotic for this kidney stone, because it’s a highly infectious kidney stone — I looked it up on the computer. On top of that, he didn’t give her a urine culture, and she had a urinary tract infection that nobody knew about. So that’s two things he did wrong. As soon as he cut that kidney, she started getting infected. It was that quick."

Cathy’s 78-year-old mother was rushed to University Hospital by ambulance, where they put her on dialysis, but it was too late. Another attorney referred her to Mellino Law Firm.

"I would recommend [Mellino Law Firm] to anybody if they ever needed a medical malpractice attorney," she says. "Chris was thorough and understanding. Compassionate. He is very, very good. Always returned my calls, answered all my questions. The staff was wonderful, and we won our case. It didn’t bring my mom back, but I got justice for my mom."

Can I File a Medical Malpractice Claim for Sepsis?

Sepsis is a serious condition that can lead to hospitalization or death. Contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (440) 333-3800 to discuss your case.