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Misdiagnosis of sepsis can cause fatalities

There are many medical conditions that are not deadly by nature. But, misdiagnosis or failure of a timely diagnosis escalates the situation into one that can cause fatalities. Sepsis is one such condition.

Massachusetts' residents may not be aware that sepsis is quite common, with some estimates placing its occurrence at 30 million annually leading to six million deaths globally. It is an overreaction where chemicals that were released to fight an infection, instead trigger a widespread inflammatory response in the body. These responses can damage organs and even result in organ failure.

Anyone with an infection can develop a sepsis -- elderly, young, people with compromised immune systems and people with wounds are all at risk. And, this is precisely why it is often misdiagnosed -- doctors are looking at high risk people for possible symptoms of sepsis and often end up overlooking the possibility of it happening in other patients.

There are different stages of sepsis, each characterized by its own symptoms. The earlier sepsis is detected, the fewer the risks and possible effects on a patient. For example, one of the symptoms in the initial stages could be a fever less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and this can usually be treated with antibiotics, but at the last stage, when a patient goes into septic shock, the chances of survival are low. Unfortunately, sepsis is misdiagnosed 30 percent of the time. Even where the initial diagnosis is correct, it is delayed and has affected the patient's quality of life by then.

Running the required tests and paying attention to the signs can achieve a correct and timely diagnosis of septic shock. When doctors do not diagnose it and let the condition worsen, it might lead to a case of medical malpractice.

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