Report: May 2019

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Sepsis and Septic Shock: Deadly Risks and Liabilities

Introduction

Sepsis Risks and Liabilities

About 1.7 million adults in the U.S. develop sepsis each year. Of these, about 270,000 die as a result of the sepsis infection. One in three patients who die in a hospital have sepsis.  Sepsis is among the top patient-safety priorities at children's hospitals.

 

Sepsis is the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, costing nearly $24 billion in 2013. It is often the cause of legal claims for compensation. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, risk managers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with patient injuries related to sepsis.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed for a claim related to a patient’s sepsis? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury related to sepsis? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the provider’s actions? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can a hospital or other employer of a physician or other health care provider be subject to liability for the provider’s negligence or medical malpractice involving a patient’s sepsis? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use?

Risk Managers:

Can a risk manager prevent liability or mitigate damages for a sepsis-related injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the risk manager to use?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for treatment related to sepsis.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving a patient’s sepsis.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of malpractice or negligence involving sepsis.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if an employer may be held vicariously liable for the actions of an employee or agent.

Risk Managers:

Use this checklist to determine if the risk manager has identified and implemented all appropriate policies, practices, and procedures to avoid liability or mitigate damages for malpractice or negligence involving sepsis, and whether all affected parties complied with these policies, practices, and procedures.

Expert Analysis

How Can Mortality Be Reduced in Severe Sepsis Patients?

Mitchell M. Levy, MD, MCCM, FCCP
Chief, Division of Critical Care, Pulmonary, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Professor of Medicine; Executive Committee, Surviving Sepsis Campaign

How Can Sepsis Develop in Patients with Paralysis?

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation



Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons to Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, employer, or risk manager would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons to Go to Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, employer, or risk manager would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving sepsis?



Medical Examples

Sepsis

This section provides detailed medical information on sepsis, also know as septicemia, the risk factors for contracting sepsis, prevention, the causes of sepsis, the signs and symptoms, diagnosis and testing, the impact of sepsis, and treatment. Also discussed is the patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on sepsis.


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Sepsis and Septic Shock: Deadly Risks and Liabilities

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Mitchell M. Levy, MD, MCCM, FCCP
   Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys Perspective
   Physicians and Health Providers Perspective
   Insurers Perspective
   Employers Perspective
   Risk Managers Perspective

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist
   Risk Manager Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons to Go to Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Sepsis

Law and Medicine Resources