Can Sepsis Be Mistaken for Other Life-Threatening Conditions?

A misdiagnosis of sepsis can cause critically dangerous complications for a patient who is facing another life-threatening condition. The symptoms can sometimes be eerily similar to other diseases and conditions, meaning that the healthcare professionals in charge of the patient’s treatment should take special measures to ensure they are diagnosing correctly.

If you or someone you love has been erroneously diagnosed with sepsis and suffered from another condition that worsened or went on unchecked, speaking to a medical malpractice attorney is crucial. At Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC, our experienced team of Portland septic shock attorneys is waiting to offer you guidance about how to proceed.

What is Sepsis?

Septicaemia, commonly referred to as sepsis, happens when an infection or an insult to the body causes a heightened immune response that causes the body to react in harmful ways. This response to the infection or injury causes blood poisoning. This blood poisoning can seriously and quickly cause widespread damage to the body’s organs and tissues.

Sepsis can lead to a hyperimmune system reaction that can cause the following problems:

  • Blood clots
  • Organ failure
  • Dangerous inflammation throughout the body
  • Death

Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis can be damaging and destructive to the sufferer. It moves quickly and comes with a host of symptoms that the patient’s healthcare provider will be looking out for in the patient. These symptoms are as follows:

  • Loss of breath
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Intense chills and severe shivering
  • Intense muscle pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fever
  • Reduced urine output
  • Skin discoloration and mottling
  • Problems speaking clearly, slurring
  • Vomiting
  • Losing consciousness

A Sepsis Diagnosis

Doctors may render a diagnosis of sepsis to patients experiencing two of the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal body temperature, which could mean the patient has a temperature above 101ºF or a temperature that is dangerously low at 96.8ºF.
  • An accelerated heart rate of above 90 beats per minute
  • More than 20 breaths per minute can signify an increased breathing rate that is a symptom of sepsis
  • An infection that is presumed or established

Severe Sepsis Condition Diagnosis

When the patient’s organs begin to fail, if specific symptoms are present, the patient may be diagnosed with severe sepsis. Listed below are the signs the doctor will watch for before confirming a sepsis diagnosis:

  • Accelerated or decelerated heart rate
  • Breathing struggles
  • Changes in cognitive capabilities
  • Severe chills due to reduced body temperature
  • Extreme weakness
  • Platelet counts that are below normal levels
  • Skin discoloration, often in a patchy presentation
  • Loss of consciousness

Misdiagnosis of Sepsis

Many symptoms of sepsis are shared with other conditions. This sharing of symptoms can lead to an error in the diagnosis of sepsis when other underlying conditions are causing the symptoms. Some medical issues that can mimic the symptoms of sepsis are as follows:

  • Anemia
  • Myocardial ischemia
  • Bleeding in the GI tract
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Heart failure

This is not an exhaustive list, but there are some things the doctor or healthcare professional should consider when diagnosing a patient with sepsis.

Contact Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC

Complications from a misdiagnosis can arise, and if a serious or life-threatening ailment is missed because of an erroneous sepsis diagnosis, you or your loved one may have been a victim of medical malpractice. To discuss and understand your options, reach out to Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC today.