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Have you ever heard of sepsis?

If not, you’re not alone. Sepsis has been described as “the deadliest disease you never hear about” because it’s the number one cause of hospital deaths in this country — and most people have no idea what it is until they either experience it for themselves or lose a family member to it.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a systemic response to infection in someone’s body. Sepsis can ultimately lead to swelling, inflammation, oxygen deprivation to the brain, damage to the victim’s internal organs, blood clots, heart and kidney failure — and more. Sepsis can be triggered by bacterial infections, fungal infections and viruses.

Roughly a million cases of sepsis occur every year in U.S. hospitals, and about a half-million of the people who contract sepsis will ultimately die. Those who survive sepsis may be left with catastrophic damage including:

  • Permanent damage to their internal organs
  • Strokes that affect their brain and body
  • Amputations of their extremities

While sepsis isn’t always preventable, the real tragedy is that many people contract the bacterial infections that lead to sepsis while they’re in the hospital for another reason. Others develop sepsis for unknown reasons, but their condition is overlooked by their medical providers until they’re in crisis.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

Early symptoms of sepsis include fever, mental confusion, breathing problems, a rapid heartbeat and cold chills. Unfortunately, patients who develop sepsis aren’t in any position to advocate for themselves. If their medical providers aren’t observant, the consequences can be severe.

If you’ve suffered serious injuries due to sepsis or your loved one died from sepsis, you need to closely examine the role of the medical providers involved. An attorney with experience in medical malpractice can help you understand more about your options and what steps you need to take next.