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Education and vigilance essential to treating deadly sepsis

Health care providers in Montana might have difficulty identifying sepsis in patients because its early symptoms are similar to other types of nonbacterial inflammation. Sepsis is a serious infection that can damage tissue and organs and cause death. Physicians and other health care staff should possess clear knowledge about the signs of sepsis so that potentially life-saving treatments can be initiated as soon as possible.

Prevention represents the first line of defense for patients. Medical personnel need to follow infection-prevention protocols very closely to reduce the incidence of sepsis. Caregivers should also evaluate patients for conditions, such as pneumococcal and meningococcal diseases, that increase the risk of sepsis. Vaccinations to prevent these diseases could be given as a precaution.

Sepsis affects many people worldwide. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality calculated that sepsis strikes about 18 million people every year globally. The rate of diagnosis is increasing by 8 to 10 percent each year, according to the agency.

Because the judgment of clinicians counts a great deal in the diagnosis of sepsis, a person injured or killed by the infection might be a victim of medical malpractice. A victim or surviving family member might recover damages through a lawsuit if evidence suggests that health care providers did not meet accepted standards of care that could have mitigated the threat. An attorney who represents medical cases might have access to an outside medical authority willing to study the patient's medical records and provide testimony for the lawsuit. After preparing the lawsuit, an attorney might approach the health care provider and request a settlement that pays for the person's medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering. If necessary, the case might go to court, where the attorney could present the information to a jury.

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Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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