Pregnancy-Related Sepsis Deaths; What You Should Know

December 8, 2015 | Crandall & Pera Law
Pregnancy-Related Sepsis Deaths; What You Should Know

Sepsis and septic shock are an important consideration for recently pregnant women. The body is vulnerable after pregnancy. Resources are depleted, and whether the birth was natural or surgical, large areas of the body are exposed and vulnerable to infection.

What is sepsis?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which may lead to death.”

Sepsis and septic shock after pregnancy were once much more common than they are today. Poorly sanitized delivery and operating procedures left moms at a higher risk of infection during pregnancy and after delivery. However, vaginal tearing, and Cesarean sections still provide opportunities for large-scale infection, even in sanitary conditions.

Though the rate maternal deaths from sepsis and septic shock is much lower than it used to be, a new study from the University of Michigan has found a way to lower that rate even more. The study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that delaying treatment for sepsis in recently pregnant women is often deadly.

Sepsis is especially dangerous because of the lack of education that most pregnant women receive on the condition. It can develop extremely rapidly and have dire consequences almost immediately. There is a very short window of time in which seeking treatment will be effective. Medscape reported that the researchers suggested, “...there may be a role for improving patient education concerning when to seek medical attention, timing of postpartum visits, and use of home visits.”

In the meantime, the best prevention is knowledge. Knowing the signs and symptoms of sepsis can save your life. The Mayo Clinic says that if you have any two of the four following symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately.

  • Body temperature above 101 F (38.3 C) or below 96.8 F (36 C)

  • Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute

  • Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute

  • Probable or confirmed infection

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with sepsis after pregnancy, or after any major medical procedure, you may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys are here to help you through a difficult time. Contact Crandall & Pera Law to schedule an appointment at one of our many offices throughout Ohio or Kentucky.