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Can a doctor misdiagnose sepsis?

A medical professional can misdiagnose or fail to diagnose any medical condition if he or she is not diligent. Amongst these is sepsis. This medical condition arises when your immune system reacts, overwhelmingly, to infection. Chemicals released in response to the infection can cause inflammation throughout your body, which can trigger blood clots. Blood flow can be significantly diminished, resulting in oxygen deprivation and damage to organs. This can lead to organ failure and death.

Typically, a doctor can spot signs of sepsis by giving you a thorough examination. An increased heart rate, fever, and quickness of breath can all be signs of sepsis. A medical professional might also conduct a blood test to check your white blood cell count and lactate levels. Sometimes an X-ray or CT scan may be necessary to help find the infection.

When properly diagnosed, sepsis can be treated with antibiotics, oxygen, and intravenous fluids. In some instances, kidney dialysis, surgery, and breathing machines may be needed to fight the condition. If successful in the battle, you might be able to fully recover your health. But in these matters, time is of the essence.

With so much on the line, there is little room for error. Therefore, doctors and nurses need to be thorough when examining patients and act accordingly. When these medical professionals fail to conduct appropriate tests, resulting in a missed diagnosis, you could be put at significant risk of harm. If injuries result, then you may be able to file a legal claim. In essence, you will attempt to show that your doctor's failure to diagnose a condition resulted in your physical, emotional and financial losses. It is hoped that taking this action will make you whole again and ensure that the negligent medical professionals who harmed you will never act in that fashion again.

Source: National Institute of General Medical Sciences, "Sepsis Fact Sheet," accessed on April 16, 2015

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