Sepsis is a complex disease process that requires emergency treatment, but when doctors or nurses improperly handle the medications, patients can end up leaving the hospital with amputated limbs.  Frequently, the hospitals will refuse to acknowledge the role that medication errors played in the amputations and patients and their families are led to believe that everything was done properly.  But an investigation into the medical records frequently shows that it was improper treatment that caused the amputations, not sepsis.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a part of the spectrum of symptoms created by the body’s reaction to an infection.  The symptoms begin as SIRS or systemic inflammatory response syndrome.  Eventually, if untreated, the body will enter septic shock.

When in septic shock, the body is no able to perfuse all of the vital organs because, one symptom of septic shock is hypotension, or low blood pressure.  Healthcare providers respond to shock by trying to do two things–first they work to increase the volume of fluid in the circulatory system and then they try to keep blood perfusing the vital organs by giving medications known as vasopressors.

What are vasopressors?

Vasopressors are drugs that work by shunting blood away from the periphery and toward the body’s core.  So distant parts of the body, like fingers and toes, can receive limited blood flow.  This is important in treating septic shock because this permits the body’s vital organs to receive oxygen and keep the patient alive.  But they must be properly monitored and given in the proper doses.

What happens when vasopressors are not properly monitored?

If too much medication is given, then the body’s hands and feet receive too little oxygen for too long.  When that happens, the cells in the hands and feet can die, causing an amputation.

The attorneys at Brown, Christie & Green have handled cases in multiple states for patients who have had to have amputations because of the failure to properly treat septic shock and to properly administer vasopressors.  In cases where the amputation resulted from inappropriate medication, the patient and their family can recover money that can assist in handling medical bills and more.  If you or someone you love has experienced problems due to the improper treatment of sepsis, we would like to talk to you to see if we can help.