Learn what your rights are if you develop sepsis and whether you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit for negligence.
When one goes to the hospital for a scheduled surgery, they expect to be cared for and return home healthier. For the vast majority of hospital patients, this is the hospital experience. In some rare cases, patients come back sicker than when they arrived for their surgery due to an infection contracted at the hospital. One such infection is called sepsis.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a medical condition that occurs when inflammation results from a body’s natural immune response to infection. When the body generates chemicals to fight an infection, there may be a brief increase in body temperature, causing fever or other temporary responses. On the other hand, sepsis can be a life-threatening inflammation response to infection if it isn’t identified immediately and treated swiftly. If sepsis occurs due to your stay in the hospital or that of a loved one, you may have legal grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What are the risk factors for developing sepsis in the hospital?
There are multiple ways sepsis can occur as the result of an infection contracted in the hospital. Infections contracted while within the hospital for treatment of another issue are called hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). Some common HAIs leading to sepsis are infections caused when wounds are not properly sewn up or attended to, leading to infection. Another example is infections that enter the bloodstream through contaminated medical equipment. Pneumonia can also be caught in a hospital for various reasons, and complications from pneumonia can cause inflammation in the body leading to sepsis. When untreated, urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal infections can also lead to sepsis.
Because hospitals are hotbeds of germs, the potential contaminants that can lead to infection are many; and the body, in its weakened state from treatment, is particularly susceptible to infection. Given the variety of bacteria and infection-causing germs in hospitals, there is an increased risk that even a small oversight of sterilization can lead to infection and sepsis. Additionally, there are many routes through which these germs can enter a weakened system, as patients are often on ventilators, IVs, or other systems that create a pathway into the body for these invasive germs.
How do I know if I have a valid case for medical malpractice due to sepsis?
There are four criteria for determining negligence, which together will clear the way for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The four required elements to be proven are the following:
- There must be documented evidence that the hospital or medical practitioner you entrusted your care or that of your loved one to had a legal duty to provide care;
- There must be documented evidence that said hospital or medical practitioner did not adhere to the basic standards of care that would keep a patient safe. In the case of sepsis, you must therefore show that the medical practitioner did not identify the risk for or presence of sepsis and immediately treat it, which would be the standard of care.
- There must be documented evidence that the medical practitioner’s lack of standard of care led to the victim, you, or a loved one suffering harm in the form of injuries, illness, or death.
- Finally, there must be documented evidence of a direct line of fault between the medical practitioner’s negligence or mistake and the victim’s harm.
Because all four of these elements must be met to prove negligence and pave the way for a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is essential to support a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney. A medical malpractice attorney will work on your behalf to determine whether the condition you or your loved one as a patient was diagnosed with and treated for from start to finish was properly diagnosed and handled, and find the specific evidence and documentation required to support your case in court.
To ensure that you navigate the medical malpractice process effectively and receive your fair share of damages when you or a loved one is the victim of sepsis caused by a medical practitioner’s negligence, you must seek the support of a qualified attorney.
Contact our Medical Malpractice Attorney for a free consultation
If you have been the victim of sepsis contracted in a hospital or medical facility, we are on your side.
At The Law Office of Cohen & Riechelson, we successfully represent Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, New Brunswick, and Mercer County.