Medical negligence is a serious problem, causing hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths each year. Grieving family members left behind often wonder whether a medical error caused their loved one’s death and, if so, what they can do about it.
Fortunately, Florida law allows certain family members to sue for medical malpractice. If a loved one died from sepsis, you may have a valid legal claim.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a complication that arises when a person has an infection. In particular, the immune system releases certain chemicals to fight the infection, but these chemicals have a negative effect by causing inflammation.
Sepsis is potentially fatal because it can lead to tissue damage and organ failure. At its extreme, sepsis can also lead to dangerously low blood pressure. Another reason sepsis is so dangerous is that people who think they have beaten the illness often end up back in the hospital even weaker than before. Sepsis sends more than a million people to the hospital every year and a large percentage of these patients end up dying.
Do You Have a Valid Legal Claim for Negligence?
There are four elements to negligence:
- You must show that a doctor or other professional owed your loved one a duty to use care.
- You must show the doctor did not exercise the correct standard of care. In particular, doctors must use the skill and care that other doctors would under the same conditions. In sum, you need to show a mistake the doctor made, such as not detecting sepsis soon enough or discharging your loved one too soon.
- You need to show your loved one died.
- You must show that the doctor’s medical mistake was a cause of the death.
These four elements are required. However, usually the second one is in dispute the most often—whether the doctor acted with sufficient skill and care. To help prove your case, your medical malpractice attorney will probably work with an expert witness to review the decisions the doctor made and identify mistakes.
What are the First Steps You Should Take?
After a loved one’s death you are probably in a lot of shock. Nevertheless, you need to protect your right to compensation. You might be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor or health care provider who is responsible for the sepsis death.
You should immediately write down everything you remember about your loved one’s treatment. What was the chain of events? What do you remember the doctor telling you and your loved one? Write everything down as best as you remember it.
Then immediately meet with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can review your case. At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein LLP, we will request your loved one’s medical records and go over them with a magnifying glass, looking for errors. We can also interview medical personnel who provided treatment before death.
Sepsis Causes & Prevalence
Two reasons for the rise in sepsis are suspected to be more use of antibiotics, which leads to resistance, and an uptick in invasive surgeries. Older people, babies and children, those with compromised immune systems and people who have recently had surgery or are on steroids or in chemotherapy are more susceptible to sepsis. Despite public perception to the contrary, 80 percent of cases begin in public, not at a hospital. In total, about 2 million people per year are diagnosed with sepsis. The mortality rate ranges from 15 to 30 percent.
It is vital to identify the condition as soon as possible to stop the rapid spread of infection which can lead to septic shock. Unfortunately, missing a diagnosis of sepsis isn’t uncommon – different symptoms present in different people. Behind congestive heart failure, sepsis was the second most common reason for re-admittance in 2011. According to a study in 2015, 40 percent of those cases could have been prevented with prompt and specialized care.
Contact Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein Today
Medical malpractice cases are complicated, and you need steady legal guidance during this difficult time. We are proud to have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients, and we look forward to meeting with you.