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Sepsis causes intensive care unit patients' premature deaths

When many of us think about intensive care units (ICUs), we often imagine patients being monitored closely by cutting-edge technology or of them receiving more dedicated care at the hands of skilled medical providers. Few of us would think that it's one of the areas in the hospital with the highest rates of preventable injuries or deaths.

It happens to be one of the units in the hospital where sepsis is most likely to kill patients, though. In fact, this condition is reportedly the leading illness that kills ICU patients in noncoronary hospital units each year in the United States.

Sepsis is a type of auto-immune response that results in the dying off of the body's tissues if an infection goes untreated. The condition becomes increasingly aggressive as time lingers on and eventually causes an individual's vital organs to shut down. As a septic shock sets in, a patient's blood pressure sharply declines, resulting in an individual's death.

Data compiled by researchers working on the Surviving Sepsis Campaign in 2008 suggested that as many as 50 percent of patient deaths that occur in ICUs across America result after they develop sepsis.

Other conditions that result in preventable in-patient deaths include cerebrovascular disease, cancer of the bronchus, aspiration pneumonitis and respiratory failure at 9, 11, 13 and 17 percent respectively.

These different conditions are described as preventable deaths because they are outcomes that were different from what was expected or should have occurred as a result of the patient's original admission to the hospital.

Researchers at the nonprofit Patient CareLink suggests that better planning and communication among caregivers could greatly improve patient outcomes. Also, better patient monitoring and use of more evidence-based practices could help as well.

Defining what medical malpractice is can be complex. Proving that an adverse event that occurred in an ICU resulted in a medical provider's negligence is even more difficult to do. One reason you will want to allow a Chicago attorney to determine that for you is because they are backed by a team of medical experts that can make sense of events that those of us without medical training cannot.

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