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How to spot life-threatening infections and sepsis

Hospitals need to make sure that their doctors and nurses are trained to spot and treat infections and sepsis

Infections occur when bacteria or fungi invade the human body and then start multiplying and feeding. There are many types of infections that we commonly hear about, including staph infections, MRSA infections (methicillin-resistant staph aureus), bedsores and infected catheters or lines.

It is always a serious matter when a patient has an active infection. Prompt diagnosis is important because the faster treatment begins, the more likely the infection can be killed and the patient can go on with his or her life. Untreated infections can lead to serious problems, including death.

That is why it is so important for hospitals to make sure that their doctors and nurses are properly trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of infection.

Signs and symptoms of infections

Hospitals, doctors and nurses should aggressively look for signs and symptoms of infections so they can be diagnosed and treated promptly. One of the earliest indicators of an infection is frequently a change in mental status or behavior. Family members and friends are often in the best position to identify this and should be sure to report any changes to doctors and nurses, and make sure that they are assessed.

In addition, there are other signs and symptoms of infection, each of which should be evaluated by a health care provider: fever, fast breathing, fatigue and increased white blood cell count.

If there is a surgical or skin wound or catheter/line insertion site, additional signs and symptoms of infection include redness, warmth, swelling, drainage/pus or pain the affected area.

If you are a family member or friend of a patient with any of these symptoms, be sure to speak up to the doctors and nurses.

Sepsis can be deadly

For elderly patients and patients with compromised immune systems, sepsis is another life-threatening danger than results from infections. Sepsis occurs when the body releases chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight an infection.

These chemicals create tiny blood clots that can block oxygen and nutrients from reaching the body’s vital organs, including the brain, heart and kidneys, which can cause them to fail. When this happens, it is often called multi-organ system failure.

The body’s response to the infection causes inflammation, or swelling, through the body, which is called systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS).

If a patient develops sepsis and it goes untreated, it can progress into septic shock, where the blood pressure drops suddenly, and the patient codes and often dies.

If a patient is diagnosed with sepsis, he or she will likely be admitted into an intensive care unit (ICU) of an acute care hospital, where fluid support and intravenous (IV) antibiotics will be given.

Contact Painter Law Firm if you need help

Painter Law Firm has represented patients and their families in sepsis cases involving care at hospitals like the Memorial Hermann system, the Triumph and Kindred system, Houston Northwest Medical Center, North Cypress Medical Center, Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center and Conroe Regional Medical Center.

If you or a family member has been injured, or had a life taken, because an infection or sepsis that was not properly treated, please contact us at 281-580-8800 for a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney.

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.

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