Medical Negligence Guide to Serious Infections

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Many serious infections, especially ones that are linked to other conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failures, cancer or trauma injuries, require immediate medical attention. If an infection isn’t diagnosed and treated early enough, the complications could prove severely disabling and perhaps fatal.

If you believe an infection hasn’t been identified or treated as quickly as it should have been, you may be able to claim compensation for medical negligence. For free legal advice get in touch with our Medical Negligence Solicitors – ask if we can deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.

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What Causes Infection?

Infections can be caused by many different things such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. People who have weakened immune systems for any reason, including a nutrient deficiency, are often more prone to developing an infection than others inherently resistant to them. Infections can also spread very easily from one person to another and from animals to people.

Some types of infections can be caused by indirect contact such as touching a doorknob or table. Common symptoms of infection include coughing, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, irregular or fast heartbeat, skin rash and diarrhoea.

Mild type of infection resolves without a treatment or medical intervention within 7-14 days and these are normally symptom-free.

What are the Complications of Infection?

Some infections may have complications even when they are treated early. The infection can spread from one area to the entire body through your bloodstream. Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent complications such as bacteraemia, sepsis and septic shock. Your doctor may order lab work or imaging scans to help determine what is causing your symptoms.

These are serious, life-threatening conditions caused by infections that need immediate treatment:

This is caused by a bacteria in the blood and occurs when infections in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, kidneys, or skin, travel to the blood. It can also happen when indwelling catheters, such as a central venous access device, pacemaker wires, or urinary catheters become infected. A central venous access device is a special IV that is placed in a large vein and left there for an extended period of time.

Sepsis occurs when an infection spreads and causes the body to react strongly to the germs. The body's defence system normally releases chemicals to fight off infection at the infected area. In sepsis, chemicals are released throughout the body.

The chemicals cause inflammation and can cause clotting in small blood vessels that is difficult to control. Inflammation and clotting decreases blood flow and oxygen to organs. This may cause them to stop working correctly. Sepsis is also called systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) due to infection. For more information see Sepsis Claims.

This is a severe type of sepsis that happens when sepsis gets worse and causes multiple organs to shut down. The blood pressure drops very low and organs don’t get enough blood. This may cause permanent damage to organs.

Meningitis is a serious infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly.

It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves, which in turn can lead to severe life-long disabilities or even death. A number of vaccinations are available that offer some protection against meningitis. For more information see Meningitis Claims.

What is the Likely Outcome?

Most people who contract infections and who are treated quickly will eventually make a full recovery, although some are left with serious and long-term problems, including paralysis, loss of limbs, recurrent seizures (epilepsy), impaired cognitive functions, and problems with co-ordination, movement and balance.

Certain infections can cause the immune system to attack and damage cells around the nerves. They infect the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord, which can leave people in a wheelchair.

Accordingly, see your doctor at the first sign of illness and don’t wait until the infection gets worse. It’s very important to seek medical attention as early as possible, because the consequences of an infection can have severe and life changing complications.

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