Our healthcare system is acutely aware of the danger posed by sepsis, but for users of the health system, there is much confusion surrounding the causes and complications of this common condition.
It is important to make clear from the outset that sepsis is a serious and life-threatening condition. Approximately 16,000 people are diagnosed with sepsis each year, and of these, 18% do not survive; thankfully recovery rates are improving across Ireland due in large part to constantly improving medical protocols and interventions.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis occurs in patients with an existing infection. The role of the body’s immune system is to fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses, but sometimes, this mechanism ceases to work properly, instead turning on the body itself. As the condition progresses, damage to the internal organs can occur, including the brain, liver, and kidneys. At this stage, the condition of the patient would be taken extremely seriously, and may necessitate treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU); such is the need for urgent treatment and constant monitoring.
The precise reason why patients contract sepsis is not clear; however, it is known that those with compromised health, impaired immunity, or the very young or elderly are more at risk.
In addition to training staff on the signs and symptoms of sepsis, healthcare providers understand the need to prevent infections from occurring in the first place through robust hygiene and sterilisation procedures.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Perhaps the easiest way to remember the signs and symptoms of sepsis is to use the acronym ‘SEPSIS’ as follows:
- Slurred speech or confusion
- Extreme shivering or muscle pain
- Passing no urine (in a day)
- Severe breathlessness
- It feels like you’re going to die
- Skin mottled or discoloured
If you are concerned you or someone else may have sepsis, call 112 or 999 for immediate emergency medical assistance.
Why might constitute sepsis medical negligence?
In some circumstances, patients who are diagnosed with sepsis may have originally become infected during a hospital stay, perhaps during a medical or surgical procedure. This may be due to poor sterilisation of surgical instruments, lack of hygiene, or placing vulnerable patients in close proximity with patients likely to pass infection. In such cases, it may be possible to bring a claim for medical negligence leading to sepsis if a clear link can be proven between the actions of a medical professional, the resulting infection, and ultimately sepsis.
Sepsis medical negligence may also occur if a patient with the condition presents to their GP or any other entry point to the healthcare system such as A&E, but there is a failure to spot the signs and make a correct diagnosis. Given the vigilance of medical staff across the healthcare system towards sepsis, such events should be extremely rare. Given the speed by which sepsis can progress, urgent intervention is needed (in the form of antibiotics in the early stages); any delay in making a diagnosis can make the difference between a complete recovery and a fatal outcome.
Can I bring a claim for sepsis due to medical negligence?
To bring a claim for sepsis due to medical negligence, it will be necessary to provide evidence that:
- The medical care you received was below a satisfactory standard (i.e. that another medical professional would not have made the same error), and;
- This negligence caused you to contract sepsis.
To prove your case, we will compile evidence, including medical records, and seek expert medical opinion.
What may a sepsis medical negligence injury claim cover?
Claims following sepsis due to medical negligence may cover two areas of loss:
- Pain and suffering due to the injury; and
- Specific costs resulting from the injury caused. This may cover costs already incurred, such as transport, accommodation, and medical treatment, and expected future expenses, such as physical therapy and care costs. The costs you receive will be based on the precise injuries suffered and the circumstances of the case.
How Lavelle Partners’ Medical Negligence Solicitors can assist you in bringing a claim
- Lavelle Partners have successfully managed many cases of sepsis due to medical negligence.
- Our personal injury team, headed by partner, Avril Scally, who herself has over 15 years’ experience in medical negligence claims, place client care at the centre of everything they do.
- From the first moment you speak to one of our solicitors, we will listen to your case carefully and with empathy and will only recommend advancing your case if we believe you have a valid case.
- We have both the legal expertise and understanding of the real-life challenges faced by individuals and their families following such events.
- Our solicitors will manage the process entirely on your behalf; compiling the information necessary for your case, including medical notes and managing the submission of your medical negligence claim.
By allowing us to handle your claim on your behalf, you can focus on what is most important, your recovery and care, or that of your family member or loved one.
For further information on making a claim for sepsis medical negligence in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800 or email Avril Scally at [email protected]