$48.5 MILLION

Truck Accident Multimillion-Dollar Settlement.

"M.A.," a 30-year-old man, was driving to work in New Mexico. Suddenly a commercial truck veered across the center line and struck his vehicle head on. M.A. died at the scene. The McNeely Stephenson firm was hired shortly after the crash to represent the family of the deceased.

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Sepsis: A Deadly and Frighteningly Common Problem

Indiana Sepsis Lawyer

You might know the older phrase, “blood poisoning,” for the deadly medical complication that is known these days as sepsis. Sepsis is often related to a hospital stay: Only one-tenth of patients are admitted with sepsis, but it contributes to up to half of all hospital deaths.

In a study based on data from 6.5 million hospital discharge records, researchers discovered that the rate of deaths in hospitals among sepsis patients was 10.4 percent, as opposed to a rate of 1.1 percent among patients without sepsis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sepsis affects nearly 750,000 hospitalized U.S. patients annually, killing over 258,000.

Sepsis is most common in children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those with chronic illnesses, but it can be fatal to anyone. In March, 2012, a 12-year-old boy from Queens, NY, scraped his elbow playing basketball. The wound was not cleaned, and a few days later, he died in an ICU from sepsis.

It is a growing problem for all of us.

Sepsis and Septic Shock Defined

When a localized infection, arising from a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, a surgical procedure, or even a bedsore, gets into the bloodstream, it then spreads throughout the body, arousing the body’s immune system. The immune system’s extreme, life-threatening response to the infection that is carried through the bloodstream is known as sepsis. It can mean tissue damage and loss, organ failure, and death.

Septic shock is a severe form of sepsis characterized by abnormally low blood pressure that cannot be raised by either drugs or the use of fluids to increase blood volume (and therefore blood pressure). Patients who enter into septic shock have a much higher mortality rate (about 40 to 60 percent) as opposed to patients with sepsis who show no signs of organ failure (about 15 to 30 percent).

Causes of Sepsis

Saying that a local infection can result in sepsis is too generalized a statement, because sepsis often has its roots in certain kinds of infections and situations:

  • Community-acquired pneumonia
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections, especially from catheters
  • Appendicitis
  • Meningitis
  • Surgical and other medical procedures.

Many cases of sepsis can be traced to hospital-acquired infections or to procedures that occurred in the hospital. Sepsis can also arise from negligence in tending to wounds such as bedsores.

Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis can be characterized by a number of symptoms. A combination of at least two symptoms can indicate the disease:

  • Body temperature either abnormally high or abnormally low
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased rate of respiration
  • Warm skin, sometimes with a rash
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • High white blood cell count
  • Abnormal platelet count
  • Elevated blood sugar.

Because sepsis involves a systemic infection, other signs of infection (vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, etc.) can also be present.

Sepsis is difficult to diagnose. There is no one definitive test for sepsis, and the symptoms can be mistaken for other medical conditions. If you or a loved one is hospitalized and you are concerned sepsis is present, make sure you voice your concerns to medical caregivers.

Treatments for Sepsis

In almost all cases, sepsis requires hospitalization to monitor blood pressure, treat the infection, and keep the vital organs working. The following treatments are commonly required, though not all of them may be needed by any one patient:

  • Antibiotics delivered by IV. It is important that testing be done so that the correct antibiotic is used. For example, sepsis arising from pneumonia caught outside the hospital might require cephalosporin; a hospital-acquired case might call for ceftriaxone.
  • Fluids delivered by IV to maintain blood pressure.
  • Medication to raise blood pressure.
  • Machine-assisted breathing.
  • Other organ-sustaining treatments such as kidney dialysis.

Sepsis is never easy to eradicate. A patient with sepsis, at the least, will undergo strong antibiotics administered by IV that have serious and unpleasant side effects. If the disease worsens, multiple antibiotics may be needed. Surgery may also be required to remove damaged tissue, including removal by amputation if the initial infection was in a limb. Death from septic shock and multiple organ failure is always a risk.

The sooner sepsis is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chance for a positive outcome: that is something all doctors agree on. Symptoms must be taken seriously and acted upon quickly, with the appropriate blood tests run and certain support procedures put in place—such as IV fluids and oxygen at a minimum—while waiting for confirmation from tests. Time is always of the essence when it comes to sepsis, but it is especially true if the infection is a hospital-acquired one, as happens with a significant number of sepsis cases.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.

Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers

Have you suffered from sepsis, or perhaps lost a loved one to the infection, in a medical situation that you suspect involved negligence? The investigative team at McNeely Stephenson goes to work immediately to uncover the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of medical injuries caused by malpractice. We are committed to bringing together the most qualified experts available to uncover exactly what happened. Because medical malpractice claims can be complex, the proficiency of your experts is crucial in both the investigation and litigation phases of your claim.

Mike Stephenson is a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated attorney, the highest possible attorney peer rating. When you call Mike, you can have complete confidence that you are talking with an Indiana medical malpractice lawyer with over 30 years’ experience offering compassionate and successful representation for his clients. What is your next step toward justice? Contact us today using our online form, or call 855-206-2555. McNeely Stephenson. Trusted advisors. Proven advocates.

Updates
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AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve

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The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.

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Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.

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The American Board of Trial Advocates is an invitation-only organization for attorneys of “high personal character and honorable reputation.” ABOTA works for the preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” and supports the right of a jury trial.

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Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states