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SSC one-hour sepsis treatment guideline creates controversy

Hospital emergency departments in Oklahoma and across the U.S. can take advantage of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign care bundle in their effort to more quickly diagnose and treat sepsis. The care bundle comes with a one-hour treatment guideline to be followed once the patient has been triaged.

The one-hour treatment comes with several recommendations. For instance, doctors should measure the patient's lactate level and obtain blood cultures before giving antibiotics. These should be broad-spectrum antibiotics. There are also guidelines on when to administer vasopressors and crystalloid fluids.

While the SSC's intention, which is to provide rapid interventions and improve patients' survival rate, is a good one, there are limitations to this one-hour treatment when compared to earlier three- and six-hour treatment directives. After all, the guidelines require that the one-hour treatment be started within an hour of sepsis diagnosis.

With an overburdened emergency department staff, this can lead to hasty decisions. A triage nurse, rather than an experienced ED clinician, may wind up with the task of measuring sepsis risk among patients. This means some patients will be wrongly thought of as having sepsis, which, in turn, could lead to unnecessary treatments. There are health risks associated with the ingestion of broad-spectrum antibiotics and other procedures mentioned in the SSC guidelines.

Misdiagnosis is one leading factor in medical malpractice cases with sepsis being perhaps the most frequently misdiagnosed infection. Those who are harmed through the error and who believe they can link the doctor's negligence with their injuries may want to see a lawyer about pursuing a case. The lawyer might hire third parties to conduct an investigation before striving for a settlement with the other side. If successful, victims may be compensated for their past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and other losses.

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