Sepsis & SIRS

December 16, 2016 | Crandall & Pera Law
Sepsis & SIRS

Sepsis, oftentimes we see it as a missed diagnosis following an abdominal surgery. Any time someone operates on your bowel, which is full of all kinds of nasty bugs, one of the risks is that you get an infection, and then you become septic. So anytime you have abdominal surgery, a physician following you after that surgery needs to be acutely aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis because you were already at risk. They just cut on your bowel, and if that place they sewed back together doesn’t hold, bacteria get out.

If you’ve had diverticulitis, which is just pockets of your bowel that become infected and inflamed, and those little pockets that stand out from your bowel and if they rupture, they just release bowel contents into your body, feces. And guess what? Your body reacts, and you develop SIRS, and they’ve got to get in there and they’ve got to fix it. Even if they fix that, guess what, for the next week they should be watching you carefully to make sure that you don’t become septic again.

Postoperatively is one of the big times that you will see patients develop sepsis, but you could be working out, you know, out on a farm or whatever, have a really bad cut, ignore it. For whatever reason that bacteria gets into your bloodstream and you develop SIRS and suddenly you’re sitting at home and you’re panting, and you’ve got a bad fever and your heart’s racing, well you need to get into a doctor. You show that doctor that festering cut, and they look at you and go well the heart rate’s above 90, the respiratory rate’s above 20, he’s got a fever of 102, he’s got a festering cut right there, it should be a pretty easy diagnosis. Unfortunately though, sometimes medical care providers miss it.

When your body responds to an infection, the response can have serious consequences. The Mayo Clinic says, “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.”

SIRS & Sepsis

Any wound can become septic without proper treatment, but sepsis is far more likely to be the result of a bowel perforation from a foreign object or surgery. This is simply because the thin layer of tissue in the bowel is all that separates your body from the outside world of food & waste. When that layer is torn even slightly, infection happens rapidly and attacks vulnerable internal organs quickly.

Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is one of the first symptoms of sepsis. It is a sign that your body is fighting an infection, but SIRS can cause a host of problems that seem unrelated to the infection and compromise the normal function of other organs and organ systems.

The criteria for diagnosing sepsis is fairly straightforward; an infection must be known or suspected, and a patient must have two of these three symptoms:

  • Body temperature above 101°F or below 96.8°F

  • Heart rate above 90 beats per minute

  • Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths per minute

The longer sepsis goes untreated, the more devastating the consequences. Risk of sepsis is higher after a cut or surgery, especially abdominal surgery. Sepsis may be among the worst of all missed diagnoses because it progresses so rapidly and should be an obvious consideration in postoperative diagnoses.

If your loved one suffered complications from sepsis or SIRS after any surgery, you may be the victim of medical malpractice. The experienced Ohio and Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Call our Kentucky legal team at 877.651.7764, our Ohio legal team at 877.686.8879, or contact us today for a free consultation.