Believing that swift diagnosis of sepsis leads to the prevention and reduction of sepsis-related fatalities, the Survive Sepsis Campaign now requires diagnosis and antibiotic treatment within one hour of suspicion of sepsis infection. However, some researchers find no benefit from early administration of antibiotics. Only patients suffering from septic shock benefit from early intervention. Patients who are not definitely septic do not benefit from stringent antibiotic therapy. Timing seems to be critical in the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.
The one-hour standard for the start of the treatment regime pressures emergency room health care providers to begin treating patients presenting symptoms of infection for sepsis before they have time for adequate diagnosis. Blood has to be cultured to determine which antibiotics will be effective. Extra time devoted to treatment of possible sepsis denies emergency room patients a timely diagnosis and delays others’ treatment.
Emergency room personnel look for early indicators of sepsis. Emergency health care providers are instructed to diagnose fevers, leukocytosis and low blood pressure as indicators of sepsis. Sepsis creates an altered mental state, and infected patients with high lactate levels require aggressive treatment. Epinephrine, Ringer’s lactate, 0.9% saline and plasma are the preferred fluids because septic kidneys can’t process large amounts of saline.
Two blood and urine cultures, quickly obtained, are sufficient for antibiotic selection. Spinal fluid, wounds and respiratory secretions are also cultured. Mortality rates increase if effective antibiotics are not administered within an hour of diagnosis. Antifungal antibiotics are recommended for immunosuppressed patients or those undergoing treatment for cancer.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney may file a third-party lawsuit against health care providers and medical facilities who beached their standard of care to a patient or to the family of a deceased loved one who was not correctly diagnosed and treated for sepsis. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit for the family of a deceased patient who was not septic but was stringently treated for sepsis.