A study by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care published in February 2020 highlighted the prevalence of poor outcomes for patients with sepsis in Australian public hospitals.
The study found that over a five-year period there were 437,354 cases of sepsis across 739 public hospitals in Australia. Of these sepsis patients, 12% died in hospital and 22.3% required treatment in an intensive care unit. As a comparison, only 1.1% of non-sepsis patients died in hospital and only 2% of non-sepsis patients required an ICU stay. The study concluded that there was a clear need for a national approach to improve early recognition and treatment of sepsis.
Similarly, over 20,000 people were treated for sepsis in Queensland hospitals alone between 2017 – 2018. More than 2,000 of those patients died according to Queensland Health. For those who survived, half were left with a permanent disability or impaired functioning.
The signs and symptoms of sepsis may include:
• Muscle aches
• Shortness of breath
• Elevated heart rate
• Elevated inflammatory markers
• Elevated white cell count
• Elevated lactate
If not recognised and treated quickly with antibiotics, sepsis can cause a person to go into septic shock which can lead to tachycardia, hypotension, cardiovascular failure, multi-organ failure and death. Patients who survive can be left with significant injuries including tissue damage (ischemia) to their fingers and toes resulting in the need for amputation. This can be caused by profound low blood pressure and the restriction of small arteries caused by the vasoconstrictor medications used to treat septic shock.
The medical negligence lawyers at The Law Office of Conrad Curry have found that most injuries and deaths occur as the result of delayed diagnosis in Australian hospitals and in private practice.
We have acted for families who have lost loved ones because there was a failure by hospital staff to diagnose septic shock and provide the timely and appropriate treatment, despite all the signs and indicators of septic shock having been recorded in the notes.
Our lawyers have also acted for people whose diagnosis of septic shock was significantly delayed by hospital staff or whose doctor failed to urgently refer them to a hospital emergency department after they presented with signs of sepsis. Some developed digital ischemia requiring amputation of their fingers and toes as well as extensive skin grafting in some cases.
One of our medical negligence lawyers would be pleased to meet with you in a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options and provide you with our advice based on our experience handling other cases involving a delayed diagnosis of sepsis. Please call (02) 4050 0330 or book online to make an appointment.