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Infections, When Not Properly Treated, Can Lead to Death From Sepsis

Sepsis is a far less common word than cancer. But it is one of the leading causes of death in hospitals.
It isn’t only the complications of cancer that can be a consequence of failure to diagnose. Failure to diagnose infections can also be deadly.
Last week, the New York Times reported on the tragic death of a 12-year-old boy who had cut his harm while playing basketball. Less than a week after sustaining this seemingly ordinary injury, the boy died of severe septic shock following an infection that wasn’t treated in time.
When the boy was initially treated in the emergency room at NYU Langone Medical Center, his symptoms included vomiting, dehydration and leg pain. Doctors administered fluids, recommended Tylenol and discharged him.
Three days later, the boy died of sepsis. Bacteria had entered his bloodstream, triggering an infection that overwhelmed his immune system.
Recognizing Signs of Sepsis
What should medical providers be doing, so that they better recognize the signs of sepsis?
NYU Langone is one of 55 hospitals in the New York area that is starting an initiative to identify sepsis earlier so that it can be treated properly.
But in order for such an initiative to be effective, there must also be an effort to improve follow-up within the medical system. In particular, more must be done to prevent emergency room errors.
In the case of the 12-year-old boy, for example, the facts indicate that there was insufficient follow-up on whether the infusion of fluids given in the ER actually helped the boy. To the contrary: the boys’ vital signs had already begun to go down while he was still at the hospital.
Even more ominously, the lab results from the ER indicated the production of huge amounts of anti-bacterial cells. But those results were not communicated to the boys’ family.

Author

Jay W. Dankner

JAY W. DANKNER was born, raised and educated in Brooklyn, New York. After graduation from law school in 1973, he joined the firm of the legendary, Harry H, Lipsig, under whose tutelage he learned the intricacies of civil litigation and trials. He tried and won his first case against General Motors in a case involving a design defect within weeks after his admission. Thereafter, he focused his attention on the emerging and developing field of law known as products liability litigation.

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