Hospital Infections: Measuring The Effects of Delayed Treatment

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Hospital Infections: Measuring The Effects of Delayed Treatment

Delayed diagnosis of hospital infections can lead to a progression of disease and an adverse outcome.  Left untreated, infections can progress from a local problem to sepsis, a systemic response to the infection.  With further progression, sepsis can turn to shock, organ failure and, ultimately, death.  Likewise, a delay in treatment can make it necessary to employ life-saving medicines, called pressors, that carry their own risks.  Further, once a patient suffers an arrest, resuscitation has been shown to cause cognitive damage from so-called reperfusion injuries.

One of the challenges that a medical malpractice lawyer faces in proving a claim for a delay in diagnosis and treatment of hospital infections has to do with proving that the delay resulted in a worsening of the patient’s condition.  Unfortunately, when there is poor medical care, important details are often lacking from the medical record.  We frequently look to vital signs as a way to distinguish between a patient who is merely septic (blood pressure is normal) and one who has gone into septic shock (hypotension is evident).

Lab values also offer important clues to the patient’s status.  Recent studies show that lactate levels correlate with progression of hospital infections.  Lactate, or lactic acid, is a byproduct of the anaerobic metabolism that sets in when the body’s cells are getting insufficient oxygen and the usual aerobic metabolism shuts down.  The seminal study on early goal-directed therapy for infections recommends that lactate levels be drawn during treatment for sepsis since they are a fair measure of prognosis.  Subsequent studies confirm that lactate levels can show whether an infection has progressed to a dangerous stage that puts the patient at risk of an adverse outcome.  For instance, see: http://emergency-medicine.jwatch.org/cgi/content/full/2012/914/1?q=pfw-featured&eaf.

When patients with an infection suffer death, an arrest, or complications of therapy due to unnecessary delays in treatment, a potential medical malpractice claim exists under Ohio law.

People interested in learning more about our firm’s legal services, including medical malpractice in Ohio, may ask questions or send us information about a particular case by phone or email. There is no charge for contacting us regarding your inquiry. A member of our medical-legal team will respond within 24 hours.

By Howard Mishkind|2019-04-24T18:00:00+00:00September 26th, 2012|Hospital Infection, Hospital Negligence|Comments Off on Hospital Infections: Measuring The Effects of Delayed Treatment
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