Sepsis can be life-threatening condition and around 4 in every 10 people who develop the condition will sadly pass.
If you or a loved one have experience sepsis whilst in the care of your doctor or hospital we can help you. At McElhinney & Associates Solicitors we understand the devastating consequences such a serious illness can cause for you and your family. Call us now on 074 91 75989 or 01-871 7571 or complete our online enquiry form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us explain your options to you.
What amounts to sepsis:
Sepsis occurs when the bodies immune system reacts or overreacts to an infection in the body causing inflammation and swelling throughout your entire system. Sepsis can be caused by any type of infection and these include appendicitis, pneumonia, post-surgical infection, urinary tract infection, cellulitis, meningitis, and gallbladder infection.
Not everyone who develops one of the above infections will go on to develop sepsis. Ordinarily, one’s immune system will keep the infection localized and will send white blood cells to the sight of the infection which will ultimately break down the infection.
However, in some individuals who have a weakened immune system or in circumstances where the infection is particularly aggressive the infection can spread to other parts of the body and the individuals immune system will overact sending white blood cells across the entire body, which results in inflammation throughout the individual’s system which can cause significant damage. Harm can be caused by the inflammation of the tissue and the disruption to blood supply which in turn causes a lack of oxygen. An individuals blood pressure can drop prohibiting oxygen from reaching the organs and when this happens it is described as septic shock.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Sepsis is an illness that proceeds at a rapid pace and you should always be mindful of the symptoms of sepsis which include:
• Chills and shivering
• Racing heartbeat
• Short sharp breaths.
When an individual develops sepsis this can easily turn to the very serious condition of septic shock within a matter of hours and the symptoms that should be mindful of for septic shock are as follows:
• Muscle pain
• Fainting/lack of consciousness
• Slurred speech
• Reduction in urine
How is sepsis diagnosed and treated:
If a patient has a history of a recent infection, has had a urinary catheter or is known to have a weakened immune system then the medical practitioner should be on high alert and should consider the symptoms of sepsis listed above.
Sepsis can be diagnosed easily through monitoring temperature, heart rate and breathing rate and a simple blood test.
It is so important that the underlying cause of the infection is identified and so further tests might be such as blood or urine samples, stool samples, lumbar punctures, radiological tests, a sample from a wound.
In order to avoid fatal complications, sepsis must be treated as a matter of urgency. Therefore, as soon as sepsis is suspected at all, patients should be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, in other words an antibiotic that will cover the broad majority of infections and once all of the tests have been conducted and the exact cause of the infection identified then a more specific can be administered.
A delay in diagnosis of treatment of sepsis:
Unfortunately, we have all heard stories of the cases of sepsis that were not identified, diagnosed or treated in the early stages and this delay has resulted in multi organ failure within a few hours. If the patient is lucky enough to survive the multi-organ failure they will remain in critical care for quite some time and have a long road to recovery.
Unfortunately in other cases, the patient may not survive and a fatal outcome results.
Sepsis and medical negligence:
Sepsis deaths are preventable, however, all too often they occur in Ireland, and near-miss events with sepsis are a regular occurrence.
If you or a loved one did not receive the appropriate level of medical care in diagnosing or treating sepsis then you may pursue a medical negligence claim against that medical professional and claim for compensation. Anyone who has been injured or harmed as a result of substandard medical care, has a legal right to claim financial redress from the hospital or medical personnel for the pain and suffering they have endured to date, the pain and suffering they may endure into future the emotional and psychological impact and the financial damage that has been wrongfully caused.
A typical sepsis negligence claim will involve the following steps:
• We will investigate every minute detail of your case and from there we will build your case by obtaining all of your medical records, taking full witness account from you and we will consultant the best experts in their field to give an opinion on whether negligence arose in your care or treatment.
• We will contact the relevant hospital or doctor advising them that we believe there was negligence in your care and treatment and asking them to admit liability.
• We will serve proceedings on the relevant medical institution or doctor and ensure that they reply to your claim in a timely manner with full details of any defense that they wish to make.
• We will represent your claim in the courts robustly to secure the appropriate level of compensation for your injuries.
Our experience in sepsis negligence claims:
Our experienced team at McElhinney & Associates Solicitors have worked on various types of sepsis claims over the years ranging from the simple to the most complex. We have developed an expertise in the area and so we know how to prepare and progress your claim to achieve the optimum level of compensation.
What level of compensation will I receive for a sepsis negligence claim:
The level of compensation payable to you is directly related to the level of injury and trauma that you suffered together with the impact that the negligent treatment has had on your quality of life. Compensation is usually broken down into two parts:
1. General damages. This is compensation for the pain and suffering that you have endured to date together with the likely pain and suffering that you will endure into the future.
2. Special damages. These are items of expenditure and financial loss that you have incurred up to the date of the court award and possible likely future financial losses, for example the cost of any private treatment, medication, aids and appliances, loss of earnings to date, loss of earnings into the future, the cost of any ongoing care and treatment required.
How long do you have to make a claim:
Any person who wishes to pursue a claim for medical negligence through the courts must do so within 2 years of the mistake being made or 2 years from the date of knowledge that a mistake was made.
If your loved one has passed then the matter proceeds as a fatal injury claim.
Once proceedings are issued the case can take approximately 2-3 years to come before the courts for hearing, depending on the complexity of the case, the number of experts that are required together with the defence delivered by the healthcare provider to your claim.
Early legal assistance can be vital as the time limits for bringing an action are very strict, therefore, if you believe that you have suffered as a result of substandard care then you may be able to make a claim for compensation against the hospital in question and we are happy to have an initial consultation with you where we will give you an initial assessment and advise you of your options.