When an infection is introduced into the body, the body's natural immunity system responds by attacking the infection and protecting body tissues. However, the body's own immunity is not always able to control the infection. Serious infections or infections in people with compromised immune systems can continue to harm the body until the body goes into shock. Left untreated, shock can lead to organ failure and death.
Failure to properly diagnose or treat an infection or infection shock can result in serious injury or death for the accident victim. Patients who suffer an injury due to infection shock may have a claim for medical malpractice. If a loved one passes away due to infection shock, the family members may have a medical malpractice wrongful death claim.
Shock Caused by Infection
Many infections go away on their own or can be treated over-the-counter or through taking antibiotics. However, when an infection does not go away, it can begin to create bigger problems for the patient. In response to the infection, the body may reduce blood supply to certain parts of the body to isolate the infection and make sure enough oxygen is getting to the most important tissues and organs.
Distributive shock is a condition in which abnormal distribution of blood supply to the smallest blood vessels. When there is an inadequate blood supply to the major organs and body tissues, it sends the body into shock. Shock caused by infection can lead to ischemia (restriction in blood supply to tissues), organ dysfunction, and death.
Also referred to as septic shock, shock caused by infection can be defined as sepsis-induced low blood pressure that is not responsive to intravenous fluids. When the blood pressure is too low, reduced tissue perfusion pressure can impair oxygenation of the tissue.
Causes of Infection Shock
Infection shock can be caused by a variety of infections. Most shock caused by infection cases involve:
- Bacterial infections,
- Fungal infections, or
- Viral infections.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening complication of certain bacterial infections in the body. Toxic shock is generally caused by:
- Staph Infection (Staphylococcus aureus)
- Strep Infection (Group A Streptococcus)
Toxic shock is often associated with infections caused by tampons, diaphragms, or menstrual cups. However, anyone can suffer from toxic shock syndrome, including men, postmenopausal women, and children. Any introduction of these bacteria to the body can lead to possible toxic shock, including infection from a wound, burn injury, or surgery. Throat infections or skin infections can also be caused by staph or strep.
Signs and symptoms of toxic shock can vary depending on the extent of the infection and the individual patient. Possible signs that your doctor should look for may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Altered mental status
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Muscle aches
- Loss of consciousness
- Low urine output
The diagnosis of toxic shock generally involves blood or urine tests to check for the presence of a staph or strep infection. Other tests, including CT scans or X-rays may be used to show the spread and extent of the infection. Treatment may involve antibiotics to treat the infection and possible surgery to remove any infected or necrotic tissue.
Hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and residential facilities can also be the source of infection. Patients who get medical care at a hospital or who live in a nursing home can quickly catch and spread the infections to others, through contact, droplets, or airborne particles. Some common hospital acquired infections (HAI) include:
- MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- Staph Infection (Staphylococcus aureus)
- VAP (Ventilator-associated pneumonia)
- UTI (urinary tract infection)
- Puerperal Fever
- Legionnaires' Disease
- Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus
- E Coli
- C Diff (Clostridium difficile)
- S. Maltophilia
- A. Baumannii
- P. Aeruginosa
- Yeast Infections
Infection Shock and Medical Malpractice
Secondary infections or nosocomial infections can be unnecessarily spread through negligence or lack of proper training for healthcare workers. When healthcare professionals fail to take proper precautions, unknowing patients can suffer the consequences of a serious infection. Some causes of the spread of infections include:
- Failing to properly clean and disinfect common areas,
- Failure to sanitize surgical instruments,
- Nurses, hospital employees, or workers coming to work when sick,
- Contaminated heating, air, and ventilation systems,
- Contaminated bed linens,
- Not separating infected patients,
- Reusing supplies, like gloves, with multiple patients,
- Not properly protecting patients with impaired immune systems, or
- Failure to take care of rat or vermin infestations.
If a hospital does not properly train and supervise hospital workers, which causes an infection that leads to shock, the hospital may be accountable for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or the negligence of the employee.
If a doctor or hospital fails to provide proper care to a patient who is suffering from an infection, the hospital may be responsible for the injuries. If you suffered a serious infection or septic shock under the care of a doctor or healthcare professional, contact your medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your rights and how you can recover compensation.
Compensation in a medical malpractice claim may include any losses caused by the accident, including:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of earning potential,
- Future medical care,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Loss of enjoyment in life.
Death Caused by Infection Shock
If a loved one died because of infection or septic shock, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim. A medical malpractice wrongful death claim is a way to hold the hospital and doctors responsible for their actions. If the hospital caused the infection or failed to properly treat the infection, holding the hospital accountable may be a way to help save other patients in the future.
It can be difficult for the family to know if the death of a loved one was caused by malpractice or just an unfortunate situation. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer who understands infection shock can review the medical records, coroner's report, and identify any possible medical mistakes that caused the infection and infection shock.
Infection Shock and Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Infection shock can cause serious tissue damage, organ damage, and death. If you or a loved one suffered an injury related to a serious infection, talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney about holding the doctor and hospital accountable for their negligence. Do not hesitate to contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.