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Hospitals collaborate to improve detection of deadly sepsis

North Carolina parents could easily fail to notice the warning signs of sepsis in their children. Sepsis, which can present as fever and fatigue, can rapidly advance to a lethal stage. A study in 2013 estimated that almost 7,000 children die every year out of the 75,000 admitted to hospitals for sepsis. To improve detection of the life-threatening blood infection that can result from a small cut or viral illness, 44 hospitals nationwide have agreed to follow diagnostic and treatment protocols aimed at reducing childhood sepsis deaths.

Organizers of the collaboration want to train physicians and nurses to recognize the early stage of the disease known as warm sepsis. An 18-point screening that can be accomplished in a couple minutes gives health care providers a tool to screen children with fevers in the emergency room. If enough warning signs, such as poor blood flow and abdominal pain, appear, then the patient should receive intravenous antibiotics as a precaution.

Some states have passed laws to mandate sepsis screening, usually following tragic deaths like a 12-year-old who died of sepsis after getting cut on the arm during a basketball game. Nationwide, however, sepsis screening remains inconsistent. The mother of the child who died from the cut arm said that a parent might have no way of knowing which hospitals screen children carefully for sepsis.

A patient who is harmed due to hospital negligence might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse might be available. In order to be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff's attorney will have to demonstrate that a failure to make a timely diagnosis or other error that caused the harm represented a failure to exhibit the required level of care.

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