A recent study co-authored by University of British Columbia professor Dr. Niranjan Kissoon calls sepsis ‘the leading cause of death worldwide,’ according to a UBC release. The study determined that nearly 49 million people were diagnosed with sepsis in 2017, leading to roughly 11 million deaths. It also showed that patients in resource-poor nations are far more likely to succumb to sepsis than patients in wealthy countries like Canada.

Despite the relatively low mortality rate for Canadian patients, sepsis is a significant concern for Canadian medical malpractice lawyers. The condition occurs when the immune system’s response to infection begins to damage healthy tissues and organs. It can lead to organ failure or death if not quickly diagnosed and treated.

As we have discussed before, hospital acquired infections can lead to medical malpractice claims when they are caused by the error or negligence of caregivers. For example, a surgical tool left inside a patient can lead to infection, as can an unhygienic recovery environment. Failure to properly monitor a patient can allow an infection to flourish, and a delayed diagnosis can allow sepsis to take hold.

Previously, our understanding of sepsis mortality was based on information from hospitals in high-income countries, where the rate of survival is between 70 and 80 per cent. Dr. Kissoon’s study examined data from more than 100 million deaths in nearly 200 countries over 17 years. He and his colleagues found a massive disparity between poor and rich nations.

“Sepsis is a disease of the poor and socially disadvantaged,” Dr. Kissoon told the Toronto Star.

“There’s no doubt across the board it’s because of poverty and lack of access and transport to health care,” he added.

Sepsis is the 12th leading cause of death in Canada, according to the Canadian Sepsis Foundation. As in poorer countries, Canadians with limited access to medical care, such as those living in rural areas, are more likely to be affected. However, both physicians and medical malpractice lawyers believe more can be done in medical settings to prevent sepsis and improve outcomes.

“Professional education is very much needed,” said Dr. John Marshall in a St. Michael’s Hospital release in 2018. “Sepsis is under-recognized and poorly understood, so there’s a need for it to be front and centre in the continuing education that we do.”

If you or a member of your family has been injured as a result of a hospital acquired infection, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced medical malpractice lawyers can help you understand your legal options and provide advice and guidance on your road to recovery.


Image credit: Shutterstock

Greg Neinstein