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New Device May Help Identify Sepsis

Sepsis is one of the most well-known (and harmful) infections that medical patients can develop. It refers to a severe response to a bacteria or other germ. PubMed Health notes that it is often referred to as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers appreciate that sepsis is unique in that the problem is not actually caused by the germs but the chemicals released by the body in response.

Unfortunately, the development of sepsis is sometimes related to medical malpractice. Sometimes a patient will develop sepsis after being admitted to a hospital for a separate medical issue. Once there, they may develop infections on surgical wound sites, intravenous lines, or as a result of skin breakdowns (bed sores). Each Illinois medical malpractice attorney at our firm has worked on cases where mistreatment by caregivers led to the infection and subsequent sepsis.

The consequences are severe. The development of sepsis is often life-threatening and many affected end up permanently scarred as a result. Also, the problem may be growing. According to a 2011 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, sepsis-related hospital stays have doubled in recent years.

New Device
Fortunately, a new device was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which many believe will drastically change the way sepsis is diagnosed and treated. The device is a mouthful known as the “Verigene Gram-positive Blood Culture Nucleic Acid Test.” As reported by NBC News, the device is supposed to identify bacteria in the bloodstream quickly and also identify whether the patient is resistant to the drugs used to treat the infection.

Right now it works on up to a dozen different specific bacteria which often lead to sepsis, including Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and more. While identifying the bacteria, the device also confirms whether it is of the dangerous strain which is drug resistant–including Methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE). Many patients in our area have suffered serious harm when they develop these difficult bacteria–often as a result of hospital stays for separate ailments.

The main benefit of the device is the speed at which results are identified. In the past, a traditional blood culture is usually required to identify these issues, which takes three days. The new device returns results in about three hours.

Right now the device is in trial stages at various hospitals. The tests are intended to measure whether use of the device actually helps better treat bloodstream infections. One doctor noted of the potential benefits of the quicker test that “it means patients are going to get out of the hospital faster, out of the ICU faster, and it increases their chances of surviving sepsis.”

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have developed sepsis while in a hospital as a result of medical negligence, take a moment to contact our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers to see how we can help. The consequences of sepsis are often serious, and it is important for those affected to receive the support they need to deal with the long-term impact.

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