Like most people in Delaware and beyond, you’ve no doubt experienced illness at some point in your life. How severe your condition happens to be and how swiftly and fully you recover depends on various factors, including age, type of treatment, the timing of diagnosis and whether you have additional, underlying adverse health conditions.
Receiving medical attention in a timely manner is critical to your well-being. When you seek medical support in an emergency room, doctors are specially trained to recognize signs of distress or infection, such as sepsis. However, if you’re left sitting in an ER waiting room too long, your condition may quickly go from bad to worse.
How sepsis develops in your body and why timing is important
If you have a urinary tract infection, kidney infection or other illness, the sooner you seek medical attention and receive proper treatment, the better. If such an illness lingers, your health may decline. Sepsis is a condition that often develops from bacterial infections in the lungs, stomach, kidneys or bladder.
Any number of situations may lead to sepsis. For instance, you might think nothing of cutting your finger while paring an apple in your kitchen at home. However, if that cut becomes infected, you could be at risk for sepsis. Sepsis may also occur from an infection that sets in after surgery.
If you’re exhibiting symptoms of infection, swift medical attention can mean the difference between keeping you stable and suffering decline that could place your life at risk. Perhaps you told a triage nurse that you were feeling worse but they told you they would “get to you” when a doctor became available. If you have sepsis and don’t know it, that could be a big problem.
Symptoms that would make the average physician suspect sepsis
Sepsis can be dangerous for anyone. You’re at greater risk for complications, however, if you’re age 65 or more, are pregnant or have some other chronic health concern, such as diabetes or cancer. The following list includes symptoms that the average doctor or nurse would recognize as a possible sign of sepsis:
- Escalated heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Shivering and chills
- Wet, clammy skin
- Confusion or delirium
- Extreme pain, especially in the abdominal area
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms and your blood pressure begins to drop, you may be entering septic shock, which can cause a rapid decline in organ function and potential loss of life. Waiting too long in an emergency room can put your health in danger.
Patients rely on physicians to properly diagnose sepsis
There are many types of illnesses and infections that might cause you to have a fever, chills or pain. Beyond seeking medical examination when you’re not feeling well, the rest is up to the attending physician to properly diagnose and treat your condition.
If you are clearly showing signs of sepsis and a doctor disregards your symptoms or fails to diagnose the condition, your health may worsen, possibly placing you in a life-threatening situation, especially if septic shock sets in. Sadly, medical malpractice is often a direct cause of patient injury and death, such as circumstances where a patient was suffering from sepsis but sat in an ER waiting room too long.