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Facts about the deadly condition known as sepsis

Pennsylvania residents who have heard of sepsis may know that it is a life-threatening condition, so it is important that people who think they have it seek medical attention immediately. Sepsis occurs whenever the body is trying to fight off an infection, and if it progresses, it can cause tissue damage and organ failure, which can lead to death. Therefore, early detection and prevention is vital.

Each year throughout the world, medical professionals diagnose 18 million cases of sepsis, and each year this number increases eight to 10 percent, according to studies performed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Because the symptoms and signs of sepsis resemble those of other disorders, it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose. However, when healthcare providers have the cooperation of patients and their families, they are better able to identify the disorder and give immediate treatment to patients.

Detection of sepsis is challenging, largely because the body cannot differentiate the first inflammatory stages of sterile inflammation from that of bacterial inflammation. Thus, diagnosing the condition is dependent on clinical judgment since confirmatory diagnostic tests do not presently exist. Early symptoms typically include stomach pain, vomiting and nausea. Subtle changes in a patient's condition, which oftentimes are only known to patients and their family members, can help doctors to identify and quickly treat victims of sepsis.

To control sepsis, healthcare providers should be able to identify the symptoms and signs of sepsis so that they can give patients prompt treatment that includes antibiotics. Sepsis patients should undergo tests so doctors can properly treat the infection in an attempt to contain it.

People who have deadly conditions, such as sepsis, require immediate medical treatment. In the event that a patient dies because of a doctor's failure to diagnose the condition, the surviving family members may be able to file a claim for compensation.Source: H&HN, "How to Manage the Challenge of Preventing and Detecting Sepsis", Eric Gluck, March 16, 2017

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