Are hospitals doing everything possible to treat sepsis?

| Sep 7, 2016 | Medical Malpractice

The recent deaths of Muhammad Ali and Patty Duke have pushed sepsis further into the public conscious. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have declared sepsis a national emergency, stating that more than a quarter-million people die from sepsis every year.

Sepsis occurs when the body overreacts to an infection, attacking bodily organs and tissue. Sepsis most commonly occurs with infections to the lungs, kidneys, and stomach, although sepsis can occur with any type of infection. While many people make a complete recovery from sepsis, it is often fatal. In other cases, doctors must take extreme measures, including amputating limbs, to treat sepsis. The people most likely to contract sepsis are the elderly, the very young, and people with damaged immune systems. For these reasons, sepsis is common in hospitals, although people can contract it anywhere.

Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose, in part because its symptoms, which include pain, fever, high heart rate and shortness of breath, are similar to symptoms for other medical conditions. With this said, there may be opportunities to prevent sepsis from occurring in the first place.

How Can Medical Professionals Prevent Sepsis?

Sepsis is a major cause of hospital readmissions. A 2015 study published in the medical journal BMJ stated that roughly two in five, or 40 percent, of sepsis readmissions could have been prevented with proper treatment. Hospitals that have had success treating sepsis focus on early and aggressive treatment, including the use of antibiotics to combat the disease at the outset. While Medicare considers sepsis treatment when rating hospitals, many hospitals have failed to implement appropriate procedures.

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Sources: Sepsis Questions and Answers, CDC.com, Sepsis is a medical emergency, CDC says. It can be stopped if caught in time. Washington Post, August 23, 2016, by Arlene Karidis