Can Sepsis Lead to an Amputation?
Posted on August 21, 2023 in Medical Malpractice
Sepsis is defined as the body’s extreme response to an initial infection. Typically, sepsis begins in one area, and the body begins to respond to the infection in a cascading chain reaction event throughout the rest of the body. Amputations could be one of the end results of sepsis or could actually cause the sepsis event. Here, we want to discuss how sepsis could cause an amputation and vice versa.
How Could Sepsis Cause an Amputation?
Any type of infection can ultimately cause sepsis, including bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, there are various types of individuals that face a higher risk of an infection leading to sepsis, including those over the age of 65, individuals with diseases such as diabetes, COPD, and kidney disease, as well as immunocompromised individuals. Unfortunately, these are the same individuals that face a higher risk of amputation when an infection occurs.
Our blood sustains life by providing our bodies with oxygen and healing properties. However, the bloodstream can also deliver infection throughout the body, which is why sepsis is so dangerous. When someone has sepsis, this causes the clotting mechanism in the blood to work harder. Nutrients cannot get to tissues throughout the body, including the hands, fingers, arms, toes, feet, and legs. Unfortunately, this can lead to tissue death, which can cause gangrene. Dead tissue must be removed expediently, or it can lead to a spreading of the infection and the gangrenous area.
Unfortunately, if an infection has led to irreversible damage to any part of the body, amputation may be the only option. Data shows that there are approximately 38 amputations each day as a result of sepsis, and around 1% of sepsis survivors have undergone one or more amputations of a limb or digit due to sepsis.
How an Amputation Could Cause Sepsis
We mentioned how sepsis can cause an amputation, but an amputation could actually lead to a person experiencing septic shock. We previously discussed how important blood is to the body, but this blood can also help an infection spread from the site of an amputation to other areas of the body.
After an amputation occurs, patients are at a much higher risk of infection at the surgical site. Generally, amputees will be closely monitored by medical professionals so that they can be given the proper medications, including antibiotics. The surgical site must be kept clean at all times. However, even if individuals do receive proper medical treatment, infections can still develop and spread.
Recovering From Sepsis
There are various treatments that can be used for someone experiencing sepsis. Individuals with sepsis must be closely monitored in a hospital intensive care unit because life-saving measures may be needed at a moment’s notice.
Some of the treatments for sepsis include antibiotics, additional IV fluids, and vasopressors which narrow the blood vessels to help increase blood pressure and maintain proper blood flow throughout the body. Surgery may be needed to remove any major sources of infection, including infected tissue or dead tissue throughout the body. If you suffered sepsis due to negligence, a Portland personal injury lawyer may be able to help you explore legal options.