SSC one-hour sepsis treatment may raise risk for misdiagnoses

The Surviving Sepsis Campaign provides care bundles for the treatment of sepsis. Previous bundles gave directions for three- and six-hour treatments, but now there is an SSC care bundle with a one-hour treatment. Residents of Washington should know what this treatment involves and whether it will be an improvement on previous care bundles.

The care bundle is meant to help hospital emergency departments more quickly identify and treat sepsis. The treatment described should be initiated within one hour of sepsis diagnosis. Recommendations include a measuring of the patient's lactate level, the administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics and the obtaining of blood cultures before this administration.

There are also recommendations on the applying of vasopressors and administration of crystalloids for certain patients, especially patients with low blood pressure. However, there are some issues. With emergency staff already being overburdened in many hospitals, the guidelines may cause many cases of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment.

Hasty treatments often mean suboptimal treatments, which can prove fatal to sepsis patients. Another thing is that those in the early stages of the infection do not require immediate treatment. There appears to be insufficient evidence that the care bundle could improve patients' outcomes. It may be better, researchers say, to focus on who needs immediate treatment rather than to impose timestamps and guidelines.

Whatever side one takes on this issue, there is no doubt that a misdiagnosis can be a harmful event. It can lead to patients undergoing unnecessary treatments that are harsh and negatively impact their quality of life. Those who wish to pursue a medical malpractice case because of a misdiagnosis may consult with a lawyer first. The lawyer might hire investigators to prove the doctor's negligence and the full effect of the misdiagnosis before proceeding to settlement negotiations.

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