Sepsis is a serious complication that can lead to death if not treated promptly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maternal sepsis is a leading cause of fatalities among pregnant women worldwide, resulting in 261,000 deaths annually.
As noted by the Sepsis Alliance, recent data from the U.S. reveals that 23% of in-hospital maternal deaths are related to sepsis, with Black and Native American/Alaskan women disproportionately affected.
Studies show that there has been an increase in cases of maternal sepsis and related deaths since 1998, likely due to increased numbers of chronic conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease, and congestive heart failure among pregnant women. In many cases, a mother develops sepsis due to the negligent actions of a medical professional.
Nurses, doctors, and hospitals are responsible for keeping their patients safe from developing life-threatening complications such as sepsis. To prevent this kind of medical problem, doctors and nurses must take all necessary steps to protect the newborn and mother from potential harm. When a mother does become infected in a hospital setting due to the negligence of a healthcare professional or facility, parents should consult with an experienced attorney to review their legal rights and options.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a life-threatening response to infection that can cause tissue damage and organ failure. Maternal sepsis refers to sepsis that occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, post-abortion, or postpartum.
Sepsis is a severe medical condition that can have long-lasting effects. While some patients may recover fully, others may be left with organ damage or amputations. Mental after-effects such as memory loss, anxiety, or depression can also result from sepsis.
Maternal sepsis statistics
Globally, an estimated 5.7 million cases of maternal sepsis occur annually, with 109 cases per 10,000 live births reported in a recent study of 52 countries. Lower-income countries have higher rates of sepsis at 150 per 10,000 live births, but even in high-income countries like the United States, it is a significant danger.
The data shows that:
- Sepsis in pregnancy is associated with increased risks, including cesarean delivery, preterm birth, stillbirth, and death.
- Sepsis is driving an increase in pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S., accounting for 12.7% of such deaths between 2014 and 2017, making it the second-leading cause of death.
- Infection is the leading cause of death during the 7-42 days postpartum period.
- Sepsis accounts for 23% of in-hospital deaths.
- Severe maternal morbidity (SMM) affects around 60,000 women annually in the U.S., with sepsis being one of the 10 most common causes.
Preventing maternal sepsis
Doctors can prevent maternal sepsis by identifying and managing risk factors, providing prompt and appropriate care for infections, and implementing infection control measures.
- Identifying and managing risk factors: This includes screening for and treating underlying conditions such as HIV, diabetes, and hypertension that can increase the risk of sepsis.
- Providing prompt and appropriate care for infections: This includes early recognition and treatment of infections such as chorioamnionitis, which is an infection of the uterus and amniotic fluid.
- Implementing infection control measures: This includes proper hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, and strict adherence to aseptic techniques during invasive procedures such as cesarean delivery.
- Monitoring and treating of maternal fever and maternal blood pressure, which can be the first signs of sepsis.
- Proper and timely management of obstetric complications such as placenta previa, placental abruption, and pre-eclampsia, which can increase the risk of sepsis.
Preventing sepsis requires a team approach and close collaboration between obstetricians, midwives, nurses, and other healthcare providers to ensure that all patients receive the best possible care. When they don't and a mother is harmed or dies, they must be held accountable for their negligence.
The Lancione Law Firm holds negligent medical professionals to account.
When a medical professional, hospital, or someone else is responsible for a maternal death, the family may be entitled to compensation. Unfortunately, the accused parties often deny responsibility and seek their own legal representation. To ensure that your wrongful death claim is successful, you need an experienced Ohio lawyer on your side.
Attorney John A. Lancione of The Lancione Law Firm is here to help.
Our legal team understands the complexity of these cases and has experience in successfully building strong legal cases. We take an aggressive approach and fight to ensure your family gets the financial compensation you deserve.
Above all, we provide emotional support during this difficult time by showing compassion and respect throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with Cleveland wrongful death attorney John A. Lancione and let our team help you get justice.