(also known as systemic inflammatory response
Sepsis is a severe illness caused by infection of the
bloodstream by toxin-producing bacteria. Sepsis can
begin from any site of infection , including such
common sources as urinary tract infection, pneumonia,
and open wounds such as bedsores and cellulitus.
Without timely and appropriate treatment, sepsis can
result in death.
This year in the U.S.
- Sepsis will occur in 2 of every 100 hospital admissions
- Approximately 400,000 men and women will develop sepsis
- Approximately 100,000 men and women will die from sepsis
- Septic shock will be the most common cause of death in
intensive care units
- Septic shock will be the 13th most common cause of death
Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis
The signs and symptoms of sepsis arise differently
depending on the nature of the underlying source of
infection. For example, if sepsis begins with
a bed sore,
there may be such signs as inflammation,
redness, and infection of the bed sore and
surrounding area. If sepsis begins with a
urinary tract infection, there may be flank pain
and difficulty with urination. As sepsis
progresses, more signs and symptoms will become
If a patient reports to a doctor with signs of an
infection and demonstrates symptoms such as those
described above, the physician should conduct
appropriate tests to rule out sepsis.
- Fever or hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Rapid heart beat (tachycardia)
- Confusion or delirium
- Lactic academia
- Progressive organ system dysfunction
There are a number of tests that can be ordered to
determine whether sepsis is present when a patient
presents with signs and symptoms that are consistent
with sepsis. These include:
- White blood cell count that is low or high
- Platelet count that is low
- Blood culture that is positive for bacteria
- Blood gases that reveal acidosis
- Kidney function tests that are abnormal
(early in the course of disease)
- Peripheral smear may demonstrate a low
platelet count and destruction of red blood
- Fibrin degradation products are often elevated,
a condition that may be associated with a
tendency to bleed
- Blood differential -- with immature white
blood cells seen
Sepsis requires timely and appropriate treatment that
generally requires monitoring in an intensive care
unit (ICU), the removal of sources such as infected
intravenous lines or surgical drains, surgical draining
of sources such as abscesses, and "broad spectrum"
antibiotic therapy. The type and number of antibiotics
administered can be refined once blood cultures and
other diagnostic testing identify the causative organism.
Supportive therapy with oxygen, intravenous fluids, and
medications that increase blood pressure may also be
required for a good outcome. Further, dialysis may be
necessary in the event of kidney failure, and mechanical
ventilation is often required if respiratory failure occurs.
Complications from Sepsis
If not diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, sepsis
can result in severe complications. These include
septic shock in which there is low blood pressure, low
blood flow, and the failure of vital organs, such as
the brain, heart, kidneys, and liver. Another complication
is disseminated intravascular coagulation, a disorder of
diffuse activation of the clotting cascade that results
in the depletion of clotting factors in the blood. Sepsis
can also result in death. The death rate can be as high
as 60% for people with underlying medical problems. The
longer diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the higher
the likelihood of complication and death.
Malpractice can occur when a physician or other
healthcare provider fails to prevent or treat the
underlying source of infection, with resulting
sepsis and complications.
If you or someone you love have suffered from
sepsis due to the neglect of a health care provider
(such as a physician, hospital, nursing home, or
assisted living provider), you should immediately
contact a competent attorney. The
attorney will work with you to determine
the legal options that may be available.
Call or email for a Free Attorney Consultation
Law Office of Joseph A. Hernandez, P.C.
Phone: (781) 461-9400
Toll Free: (866) 461-9400
Please be sure to include your name and a telephone number where we can reach you.
Thank you for visiting the Law Office of Joseph A.
Hernandez. The material located on our law firm's
web site is intended to be a resource for present
and prospective clients for informational purposes
only and is not intended to be legal advice. This
web site is not an offer to represent you. The act
of sending electronic mail to our firm or to
Attorney Hernandez does not create an attorney-client
relationship and does not obligate the Law Office of
Joseph A. Hernandez or Mr. Hernandez to respond to
your email or to represent you. No attorney-client
relationship will be formed unless you enter into a
signed agreement of representation with the Law
Office of Joseph A. Hernandez. You should not act,
or refrain from acting, based upon any information
at this web site without seeking professional legal
counsel. Under the rules of the Supreme Judicial
Court of Massachusetts and other rules, this
material may be considered advertising. The listing
of areas of practice does not represent official
certification of expertise therein.