Physicians missing glaring signs of sepsis: 6 things to know

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"Inadequate patient assessment" has been cited as a factor in 75 percent of sepsis malpractice cases, according to a report conducted by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, the body that defends physicians accused of malpractice.

Here are six things to know about the report, which reviewed 327 malpractices cases.

• The National Institute of General Medical Sciences reports that more than 1 million Americans suffer from severe sepsis each year, and between a quarter and one half of those cases are fatal.
• Though physicians are trained to be on watch for the signs and symptoms of sepsis, there is no fast method of making a definitive diagnosis.
• The inflammatory response to sepsis differs from patient to patient, making it difficult to recognize the symptoms and make a proper diagnosis.

• Some Canadian hospitals have started implementing "sepsis teams" in emergency departments to diagnose the infections and treat them as aggressively as a heart attack or stroke.
• Among the malpractices cases noted in the CMPA report were more than 160 lawsuits and more than 150 complaints to physicians' licensing colleges.
• Forty percent of legal actions resulted unfavorably for the physician.

More articles on infection control:

Are CAUTI rates up or down? CDC, AHRQ data disagree, study finds
Poll reveals Americans are woefully uneducated about antibiotic resistance: 5 findings
How Sutter Health is working to prevent sepsis

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