What can be done to help diagnose sepsis?

If sepsis is suspected, physicians will typically perform a host of tests in order to verify that this is indeed the proper diagnosis and identify the source of the underlying infection.

First and foremost, blood samples will likely be drawn from two or more sites, and tested for the following:

Proof of infection
Clotting issues
Functional abnormalities in the kidney or liver
Electrolyte imbalances
Oxygen impairment
It’s also possible that physicians will run additional lab tests to help determine the location of an infection, and/or the type of bacteria present, including analyses of wound secretions, respiratory secretions and urine.

Finally, if further answers are needed, physicians might decide to run imaging scans from x-rays and ultrasounds to CT scans and MRIs.

What can be done to treat sepsis?

As we stated in an earlier post, timing is everything when it comes to sepsis, as the sooner aggressive treatment begins, the better a patient’s long-term prognosis.

Once a sepsis diagnosis is confirmed then, physicians typically order an immediate regimen of broad-spectrum antibiotics and fluids to be administered intravenously. Once the results of the diagnostic tests outlined above come in, providing greater insight as to the location and/or the type of bacteria present in the bloodstream, it’s likely that a patient will be switched to a more suitable antibiotic.

If the IV fluids prove ineffective in addressing low blood pressure, it’s possible that vasopressors, which are designed to help increase blood pressure by constricting blood vessels, will be administered. Other medications on which physicians frequently rely to treat sepsis include corticosteroids, painkillers, sedatives and even insulin to help stabilize blood sugar levels.

In the unfortunate event the sepsis progresses to severe sepsis or, worse, septic shock, more serious lifesaving interventions will be required, such as breathing assistance or dialysis. Furthermore, surgery may need to be undertaken to rid the body of infection sources, including removal of abscesses.

Here’s hoping the foregoing series of posts have not only proven informative, but also helped illustrate why it’s so important to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you’ve lost a loved one due to what you believe was a failure to diagnose or properly treat sepsis.