What is sepsis?

Even though most people don’t even know what it is, sepsis is one of the world’s leading causes of death. Sometimes called “blood poisoning,” sepsis is really a deadly autoimmune response to infection somewhere in the patient’s body. In the United States, sepsis is responsible for as many as one-half of all deaths that occur inside hospitals and is estimated to claim up to 350,000 lives annually.

The most sobering fact about sepsis, however, is this: Many of the victims of sepsis get their infection while in a medical facility. These hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) can easily trigger sepsis in people who have particularly fragile health conditions, those who are particularly young and the elderly.

Sepsis starts with a victim’s exposure to some kind of foreign agent or germ. Sepsis can get started from:

  • Unclean rooms, beds, hospital trays and sheets
  • Improper sanitization or care taken when using invasive devices (like an IV)
  • Undetected and untreated urinary tract infections
  • Improper hygiene by the doctor, nurse or other health profession
  • Poor sterilization of a ventilator, oxygen equipment or surgical equipment

It only takes the smallest germ to start a chain reaction that can wreck the victim’s health for the rest of their life — or kill them. Sepsis is a system-wide condition, so it can damage the victim’s lungs and cause them to need a respirator. It can attack their heart and cause heart failure (known as septic shock), and it can push them into renal failure. It can also impair their cognitive abilities and create other problems.

If you or your loved one suffered from sepsis and you suspect a hospital-acquired infection was to blame, find out more about your legal right to compensation.