New sepsis guidelines could cause misdiagnoses

August 6, 2019 | Crandall & Pera Law
New sepsis guidelines could cause misdiagnoses

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that must be treated quickly in order for Ohio patients to have the best outcomes. However, an article is questioning the wisdom of a new protocol that calls for sepsis to be treated within one hour of a diagnosis.

According to the authors of the article, which was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the 2018 Surviving Sepsis Campaign care bundle could lead to misdiagnoses and unnecessary treatments for patients. Doctors are supposed to use the bundle to quickly diagnose and begin treatment of sepsis patients in hospital emergency rooms. Once sepsis is recognized in a patient, the protocol sets a one-hour timeline for doctors to measure lactate levels, obtain blood cultures, administer antibiotics, and perform other necessary treatments. Previous guidelines had called for sepsis to be treated within three-hour or six-hour windows.

The author of the article contends that there is little evidence to show that a one-hour treatment window is necessary or helpful. In fact, he argues that it places undue stress on emergency room staff, which could cause cases to be misdiagnosed, delay patient care and increase patients' risk for medical complications. The author suggests that a better course of action could be for doctors to concentrate on identifying sepsis patients who truly need treatment within one hour and care for other sepsis patients using the previous three-hour or six-hour directives.

Doctors who misdiagnose sepsis or other serious infections could be found to have committed medical malpractice. Patients who have been harmed as a result might want to discuss their situation with an attorney.