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Doctors warn against misdiagnosis of sepsis

Many Montana residents are worried about the potential dangers posed by infections, especially because serious infections can be deadly. If a patient goes into sepsis, he or she could die because of the way the body responds to the presence of an infectious agent. While treatment of sepsis or septic shock is critical to save lives, the wrong treatment decisions can also be dangerous. Physicians have raised questions about a campaign that aims to begin specific treatments for sepsis within one hour after medical professionals recognize the condition.

Some emergency room physicians argue that following these guidelines strictly could actually pose an increased danger to patients without protecting lives, due to the risk of a misdiagnosis or overtreatment. Sepsis can, of course, be fatal, and treatment is critical. However, a misdiagnosis could lead to powerful, inaccurate treatment that could cause severe, long-lasting side effects. Previous directives for treating sepsis put in place protocols for three and six hours after diagnosis. The intention was to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment, but the rush associated with a one-hour protocol could lead to mistakes in diagnosis, doctors argue.

Patients may be treated based on a risk of sepsis rather than a clear presence of the condition. They would receive large volumes of fluids and broad-spectrum antibiotics, both of which can also carry serious risks if a patient is not actually suffering from sepsis. Studies have emphasized that quality of care is most important in improving survival, including the closely monitored use of antibiotics.

When people go to the hospital, they want to feel confident that they will be treated correctly. However, inappropriate treatment can cause serious effects. People suffering a worsened condition due to a doctor's error can consult with a medical malpractice attorney about their options available to seek compensation.

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619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
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