Each year, complications from medical procedures cause injury and death to millions of patients. In many cases, these complications were preventable if medical professionals had provided an appropriate standard of care.
One common complication patients develop in hospitals is infection. While infection itself is a serious enough condition, if that infection turns septic, the results can be deadly. If you suffered from sepsis after a medical procedure or hospital stay, you may still be feeling the effects.
The rapid progression of sepsis
When you are ill, your body naturally responds by releasing chemicals to fight any infection. However, some infections cause the body to overproduce those chemicals, which flood the bloodstream and cause potentially deadly inflammation throughout your body. When this happens, doctors may have a limited amount of time to act.
Sepsis occurs in three stages. While the first stage has symptoms that may be difficult to discern from those of an infection, a doctor or nurse who ignores those symptoms may place you in grave danger. The symptoms of sepsis include:
- Fever over 101 degrees
- Rising heart rate
- Rapid breathing
Since the inflammation of sepsis travels through your blood stream, it progresses rapidly, sometimes within hours. Severe sepsis is the second stage, and it includes symptoms such as:
- Decreased urination
- Changes in consciousness or mental ability
- Difficulty breathing
- Low platelet count
- Skin discoloration
- Abnormal heart rhythms
Once sepsis reaches the severe stage, doctors must work quickly. If your sepsis becomes septic shock, your survival rate drops to 50 percent. When your body is in septic shock, your blood pressure plummets. Small clots may form in your body, blocking the flow of oxygen to your vital organs. Your organs may begin to fail, and gangrene may set in.
Recovery from sepsis
If doctors are able to halt the progression of this deadly condition, your recovery will likely be slow. In fact, depending on your age and overall health before the infection, you may struggle with the effects of sepsis for up to 18 months. Your body will be more prone to infection, and you may suffer with disabling conditions, such as:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Organ damage
- Poor cognitive abilities
Since sepsis occurs as a result of infection, it is possible that, in addition to failing to diagnose your sepsis, failure to follow protocol for hygiene and wound care in the hospital may have contributed to your condition. In fact, it may be frustrating to realize that nurses neglecting to wash their hands or someone improperly sterilizing surgical equipment resulted in years of pain and suffering for you.
In addition to your physical suffering, you likely missed considerably more time from work than you planned with your original medical procedure. Perhaps your spouse also lost wages to care for you. Now that medical bills are mounting, you may be wondering how you will manage. While it may be difficult to put a monetary value on your life and the losses you have experienced, you certainly have every right to consider the option of seeking compensation for your suffering.