Leeseberg & Valentine

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Diagnosing sepsis in pregnant or post-partum women is a challenge

Pregnancy and childbirth cause a vast amount of changes in a woman's body. Many of those changes can mimic the symptoms of medical conditions such as sepsis. This makes getting to the appropriate diagnosis in a timely manner a challenge for doctors.

Sepsis results from infections that cause the body to attack itself. If sepsis goes untreated, it could lead to death or serious health consequences for a survivor. Prior to giving birth, a pregnant woman's risk of contracting sepsis increases if she suffers from diabetes, invasive testing during pregnancy or invasive testing in order to get pregnant. However, those aren't the only risks.

What increases a pregnant woman's risk of sepsis?

The following pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions or circumstances could lead to an infection and subsequently sepsis:

  • An infection in the breasts or mastitis
  • A bacterial or viral illness
  • An induced abortion
  • A miscarriage
  • An unusually long or stalled labor
  • An increasingly longer amount of time between your water breaking and the birth
  • A Cesarean section
  • An infection brought on by a vaginal delivery

If your obstetrician and other medical personnel fail to appropriately monitor you for infection, you could end up in the intensive care unit with sepsis. When a pregnant woman contracts sepsis, it's known as maternal sepsis. Even in a developed country such as the United States, approximately 30 percent of maternal sepsis cases result in the need for admittance to the ICU.

It's not always related to the birth

Something as simple as a urinary tract infection could cause you to end up with sepsis during your pregnancy. Due to all of the changes that occur in your body during this time, it may take a diligent and vigilant doctor to diagnose your condition before it puts you in the ICU. Any hesitation or wavering on the part of your doctor could cause you significant health consequences.

Since something as simple as an infection probably started your journey into sepsis, if your doctor missed it, he or she failed to provide you with the standard of care you deserved. If your doctor dismissed your symptoms as related to your pregnancy or childbirth without further investigation, you may have cause for the filing of a medical malpractice claim if you end up seriously ill due to sepsis. It may be possible to pursue compensation for all that happened thereafter.

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