Sepsis and children: A medical complication that can quickly turn deadly

Sepsis is a medical complication that, if left untreated, can turn deadly for children.

Children are constantly exposed to germs. Days spent at school and evenings in extracurricular activities result in continuous contact between kids. If one gets sick, odds are pretty high the illness will spread. But when is this illness something to be concerned about? This question is one that can keep parents up at night, tossing and turning over frustration when attempting to determine whether their little one is fighting the common cold or should go in to the pediatrician for a more thorough check up.

In the event that a parent chooses to take their little one in for a visit with a pediatrician, the parent expects the pediatrician to provide their child with a certain level of care. Parents expect, rightfully so, that their child will be checked and treated for any potential serious disease. In many cases physicians across the country meet this expectation, but there are some situations where a professional is negligent and the visit fails to meet these expectations.

One illness that is causing particular concern due to its severity is a complication referred to as sepsis. Sepsis is often associated with the elderly or those who are admitted to the hospital for long periods of time. Unfortunately, the complication is also an issue in children.

How prevalent is sepsis in children?

A recent publication by Stat, a news organization that focuses on the happenings within the medical community, notes that 75,000 children are hospitalized for sepsis every single year. The piece also presented data on the severity of the complication, finding that approximately 7,000 children died of sepsis in 2013.

Are there attempts to address this problem?

Hospitals are taking steps to help better ensure the presence of sepsis is caught and promptly treated in children. Some hospitals are implementing a test that involves multiple checks. One example is putting pressure on a child's skin. The skin will turn white but should promptly return to the normal hue. If this does not occur within a few seconds, the child would receive a point. If an 18-point test is used and a child scores 5 or over, a physician may order for treatment for to begin.

What if the presence of sepsis goes unnoticed?

In some cases, the failure to notice and treat sepsis could result in serious injury and death to the child. In these situations, the physician may be guilty of medical malpractice. In order to establish this claim, the victim must generally show that four different things were present: duty, breach, causation and damage.

The duty in these situations is generally met when there was a patient doctor relationship. The breach element often requires a showing that there was an accepted standard of care that was not met. In these types of situations, the victim may need to show that the physician should have asked certain questions or run certain tests during the appointment. If this was not done, the breach was established. The next element requires a showing that the breach resulted in the injury, and finally that the injury caused damage to the patient.

Meeting these elements can require various pieces of evidence, such as expert testimony. As such, it is wise for victims or parents of a victim to seek legal counsel. An experienced attorney can review the details of your child's experience. If a case is present, your lawyer can aid in building the case, better ensuring your child receives all the legal remedies they are entitled.