Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers Report on New Device Promising To Identify Sepsis Early
September 4, 2012
By Debra A. Jensen, Esq.
The Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Galfand Berger are excited to report that the Food and Drug Administration approved a new test that can identify specific bacteria linked to serious bloodstream infections just hours after a patient shows results of having a positive blood culture. Our lawyers hope this promising new device will assist physicians in avoiding missed diagnoses of infection and will save lives throughout this country.
What is Sepsis?
Infections of the bloodstream are one of the most common and serious illnesses diagnosed in United States hospitals. These blood infections are often referred to as sepsis, septicemia, bacteremia and blood poisoning. Sepsis is most often caused by a bacterial infection; however, fungi and viruses can also cause sepsis. The source of the infection can be almost anywhere in the body including the abdomen with appendicitis, the lungs with pneumonia, the kidneys or bladder with a urinary tract infection, the brain or the spinal cord. Bacteria can also enter the body through the skin such as through a cut, a surgical site, intravenous lines, and even bedsores.
Sepsis is considered a medical emergency. Once a patient develops sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response occurs that releases chemicals into the blood to help aid in the fight against the infection. At the same time, these chemicals can cause extensive inflammation and blood clotting. The inflammation may result in organ dysfunction or failure. Blood clotting can reduce the blood flow to the extremities and vital organs depriving them of receiving oxygen rich blood. The affects of these two processes can be catastrophic or even deadly. A quick diagnosis and the initiation of the appropriate antibiotics are crucial. According to a study in the journal Critical Care Medicine in 2010, results showed that a patient’s mortality rose by 7.6 percent for each hour of delay in receiving antibiotics.
Sepsis and Medical Malpractice
For some unfortunate patients, the development of sepsis can be related to medical malpractice. Patients can develop infections while hospitalized, known as hospital-acquired infections, and these have the potential to lead to a case of sepsis. These hospital-acquired infections are often the result of improper hand-washing or the use of unsanitary medical equipment. The symptoms of sepsis may be misdiagnosed as another ailment, making a hospital or physician liable for any medical damages. Also, a physician may completely overlook symptoms and a diagnosis of sepsis resulting in a case of “failure to diagnose”.
Statistics Show Prevalence of Sepsis in United States Hospitals
According to a report last year from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are 4,600 new patients each day that require medical care for sepsis infections. The hospital admissions for sepsis have more than doubled in the last several years and now account for approximately 1.6 million hospitalizations each year. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is noted to be between 20 percent and 50 percent. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment with powerful antibiotics is the key to a more favorable outcome. Those that survive this dangerous and deadly infection are often left with serious lifelong disabilities due to amputations of limbs where tissue death had occurred. These staggering numbers are shocking, upsetting and extremely concerning.
The Ohio State University Medical Center and five other healthcare institutions have decided to test a recently-approved medical device by the Food and Drug Administration that is believed to be able to help identify and manage sepsis infections. The device, the Verigene GP Blood Culture Nucleic Acid Test (BC-GP), is manufactured by the company Nanosphere Inc. This test can identify twelve different types of bacteria that can cause infections of the bloodstream including strains of Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Listeria, and Enterococcus. In addition, the test is able to determine if the bacteria is one of the more resistant and difficult to treat bacteria strains such as vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This test is able to produce results within hours of the first signs of bacterial growth as opposed to the more traditional methods where results were not available for two to four days.
Having the proper bacteria identified quickly with the appropriate course of antibiotics prescribed much earlier can be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, not all hospitals and physicians are proficient in recognizing the symptoms of sepsis and those patients suffer the often preventable devastating consequences of a sepsis diagnosis. It is the hope that this new product will improve patient outcomes, decrease length of intensive care unit stays, decrease the length of overall hospital admissions, reduce the risk of amputations and improve survival rates.
Galfand Berger Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Philadelphia, Reading, and Bethlehem, PA and Burlington, NJ – Helping Victims of Medical Errors, Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose
If you or someone you love has developed sepsis or other serious infection while in a healthcare facility and believe that a failure to diagnose or medical negligence is responsible for your injuries, we encourage you to contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger. The harmful health effects of sepsis can be severe and we have dedicated a key area of our practice to assisting victims recover the compensation they need to deal with these long-term consequences. Our dedicated and compassionate medical malpractice attorneys will support you through your difficult ordeal while protecting your rights and fighting to secure for you the fair compensation to which you are entitled. Call Galfand Berger today at 1-800-222-8792 to schedule a free and confidential consultation or contact us online.