South Carolina Attorneys Fighting for Clients With Injuries Due to Sepsis
Experienced counsel for patients who sustained catastrophic injuries related to sepsis
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening infection that, if misdiagnosed or left untreated, can put a patient into septic shock and suffer catastrophic injuries like amputation. The very young, elderly, and immunocompromised are at greater risk for sepsis, due to their weakened immune systems. Sepsis can be a medical emergency and should be treated as such.
The South Carolina sepsis and amputation injury attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC pursue compensation for victims of untreated or misdiagnosed sepsis. Partner Chad McGowan obtained a $13.75 million jury verdict against Aiken Regional Medical Center on behalf of a client whose untreated sepsis led to a triple amputation. Let us work for the same successful results for you.
Frequently asked questions about sepsis and amputation injuries in South Carolina
- What is sepsis?
- What can cause sepsis or septic shock?
- Can medical negligence lead to sepsis?
- What are the side effects of sepsis and septic shock?
- What are the long-term effects of sepsis?
- What is Levophed and its relationship to sepsis?
- What is my South Carolina sepsis injury case worth?
What is sepsis?
The condition of sepsis involves the existence of harmful bacteria and their toxins in the blood or tissue. It is a serious complication that can result from various types of infections and often develops from an infected wound. Sepsis forms when a person’s immune system disperses chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the infection, but instead they produce inflammation throughout the body. The inflammatory response of the body can put debilitating stress on the person’s organs, causing them to fail. As sepsis worsens, it can develop into severe sepsis or even septic shock.
As a life-threatening condition, sepsis can also lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1.7 million people contract sepsis each year in the U.S. The condition also takes the lives of 270,000 Americans each year.
Various types of infections can eventually lead to sepsis. The most common types include:
- Abdominal infection
- Bloodstream or bacteremia infection
- Kidney infection
- Urinary tract infection
In short, sepsis can occur when germs get into a person’s body, cause an infection, and that infection rages out of control. In worst-case scenarios, patients with sepsis can lose a limb or go into fatal septic shock.
What can cause sepsis or septic shock?
Conditions and causes that can lead to contracting sepsis include:
- Bedsores. Unfortunately, bedsores occur frequently in both nursing home and hospital patient settings. They most often form when a patient is left unattended in the same position for a long period of time, without the benefit of movement. The sores can develop into more serious wounds and infections, ultimately leading to sepsis.
- Intravenous lines. A person’s bloodstream comes into direct contact with intravenous lines. A patient can end up contracting sepsis if the point of entry into the skin is not routinely cleaned and sanitized. If proper sanitization is neglected, an infection can develop in the area that allows bacteria to contact the bloodstream.
- Undiagnosed infections. Too often, infections are not recognized or diagnosed properly when a person visits an emergency room with symptoms of a serious infection. Such a misdiagnosis may lead to sepsis or septic shock. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can be a sign of medical malpractice.
- Wounds from surgery. After surgery, patients are routinely given antibiotics in order to facilitate proper healing. If these antibiotics are not prescribed and followed up on properly, the wounds from the surgery will heal slower, which could lead to exposure to bacteria in the blood and possible contraction of sepsis.
The sepsis injury attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC work to determine the cause of your injury, why it happened, and who (or what) was responsible.
Can medical negligence lead to sepsis?
Yes. Many patients enter hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities and care centers with pre-existing infections. However, some of these infections can lead to sepsis if they are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Patients can also develop hospital acquired infections (HAIs), which are a common type of infection that can lead to sepsis.
Negligence by a medical/healthcare organization or individual health care worker can lead to a patient contracting an HAI. Some examples of negligence leading to this outcome can include:
- Improper sterilization of medical devices and equipment
- Inadequate filtration of the medical facility’s cooling and heating systems
- Poor care of bedsores and surgical wounds that lead to improper healing
- Poor overall sanitation practices
- Use of defective medical products
Often, sepsis is not diagnosed early enough. Medical professionals may be negligent if they do not properly examine and diagnose a patient exhibiting symptoms of sepsis. Hospital-acquired infections that develop into sepsis that are often found to be avoidable or preventable.
What are the side effects of sepsis and septic shock?
The possible side effects of sepsis and septic shock include the following:
- High fever
- Kidney failure
- Low blood pressure, of hypotension
- Memory loss and impairment
- Rapid breathing
Patients with low blood pressure are at an increased risk of tissue necrosis, or tissue death. Physicians must understand how to treat this drop in pressure properly, or a patient’s limbs can experience loss of blood flow. This can lead to unnecessary limb loss and amputation when medical personnel fails to address this issue correctly. Our attorneys work to determine the cause of your injuries and whether malpractice occurred.
What are the long-term effects of sepsis?
People who survive sepsis may experience a condition called post-sepsis syndrome (PSS). The Sepsis Alliance estimates that about 50% of people who have survived sepsis can be left with long-term physical and psychological effects, such as:
- Brittle nails
- Decreased mental functioning
- Disabling muscle and joint pain
- Dry, itchy, peeling skin
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
- Hair loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of self-esteem
- Nightmares and panic attacks
- Weight loss, lack of appetite, food tasting abnormal
A study conducted by the University of Michigan Health System reported that 60% of hospitalizations for severe sepsis were associated with worsened cognitive and physical function among older adults. Sepsis can also affect breathing and lung condition, leaving sepsis survivors susceptible to lung infections, kidney damage, or liver injury.
What is Levophed and its relationship to sepsis?
When a patient goes into septic shock, it means their organs are failing. Medical intervention must be immediate. For years, doctors used dopamine to treat the low blood pressure that comes along with sepsis (hypotension); recently, more and more doctors have been using a drug called Levophed.
If a patient receives too much Levophed, or if the medication is used for too long, he or she is at risk of the following conditions, per RxList:
- Ischemic injury (restricted blood supply)
- Necrosis (tissue death)
- Respiratory distress
- Slow or arrhythmic heart rates
- Tissue hypoxia (oxygen deprivation in body tissue)
In short, Levophed and vasoconstrictors come with the very real risk of reducing the amount of blood and oxygen your tissues can access. If these drugs are used for too long, the tissues will die. It is the extremities that are the least likely to get the oxygen-rich blood they need – fingers, hands, toes and feet. The tissue in these body parts will die without this. As a result, patients with sepsis who are given the incorrect amount of Levophed could end up needing part of, or all of, their arms and legs amputated.
Our attorneys have vast experience with these types of cases and are ready to help you if you have experienced serious injury due to medical negligence.
What is my South Carolina sepsis injury case worth?
Our personal injury attorneys understand that not every patient and not every case is the same. That said, we treat every client as if they are our only client. We dedicate ourselves to proving negligence on the part of the responsible parties, and then we work to secure every penny of the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A successful personal injury case can recover financial compensation for your losses, including:
- Medical bills, including surgeries, doctor visits, outpatient visits, prosthetic devices (in case of amputation) and medications.
- Physical and occupational therapy, as many limb loss patients and serious injury patients must spend time learning how to live with their “new normal.”
- Personal support and home health care, as some individuals who have lost limbs may need an in-home nurse or caregiver or additional medical assistance.
- Lost wages, for time lost from work due to your injury, plus compensation for lost earning potential.
- Diminished quality of life, which is financial compensation for emotional, social, and mental injuries.
We work to ensure you are compensated for the entire scope of your injuries, including lifetime costs.
Contact our SC attorneys if you sustained amputation injuries due to sepsis
McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC’s attorneys have been practicing for decades in the field of medical malpractice. If you have lost a limb or suffered another serious injury due to sepsis, we want to help. Call us today at 803-327-7800 or fill out our contact form and schedule an appointment. We proudly serve clients throughout South Carolina and nationwide from offices in Columbia, Rock Hill, Sumter, Greenville, Charleston, and Georgetown.