What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a medical condition in which the body responds to a severe infection by attacking its own organs and tissues.  In other words, the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection.  The initial infection usually occurs in the intestines, lungs, skin or urinary tract.  Left untreated, sepsis can cause complications that can damage the brain, kidneys, lungs and hearing.  The condition can even cause death.

Because their immune systems are still developing, sepsis is most common in infants under three months old.  However, sepsis is also common in the elderly, people with chronic medical conditions, and people who have compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV.

Infants with sepsis may experience the following symptoms:  vomiting or poor feeding; fever (a rectal temperature of 100.4 degree Fahrenheit); irritability or lethargy; decreased muscle tone which results in floppiness; a fast or slow heart rate; difficulty breathing, including brief periods of stopped breathing; pale or blue skin color; a rash or jaundice, or difficulty urinating or producing very little urine.  Children who are older may experience fever, be irritable or lethargic, have difficulty breathing, or complain about having a racing heartbeat.

Sepsis, especially in infants, is usually caused by an initial bacterial infection.  Group B strep, E. coli, listeria, meningitis and salmonella are common bacterial infections that can lead to sepsis.  In addition, premature babies, who have severely underdeveloped immune systems, are often treated by invasive procedures such as catheters or breathing tubes which can lead to infections.  Mothers who have a fever during pregnancy and who suffer from an infection of the placenta or uterus have a higher risk of having a child with sepsis.  Moreover, pregnant women who experience a rupture of the amniotic sack 18 hours or more before delivery are also at risk of having a newborn with sepsis.

How is Sepsis Treated?

Because symptoms of sepsis can be vague in newborns, it is extremely important for doctors to perform various lab tests to diagnose and detect the condition.  Blood tests can look at white blood cell counts and detect the presence of bacteria.  Urine tests can also detect bacteria.  Lumbar punctures can detect meningitis, while X-rays can detect pneumonia.  Infants who have sepsis are usually required to stay in the hospital, where they will be administered antibiotics and monitored closely.

How Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC Can Help If Your Child Was Diagnosed  with Sepsis

Sepsis in newborns is dangerous and can lead to damage to the kidneys, lungs and brain.  Sepsis can even be fatal.  In some cases, medical professionals may fail to diagnose the condition or treat it in a timely and proper fashion.  If your child was diagnosed with sepsis, our firm may be able to help.  If retained, we will thoroughly investigate your child’s medical records, including those during pregnancy, labor and after-care.  If your child’s sepsis could have been prevented, we will recover compensation from those responsible.  Contact the Birth Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC today.

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