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One-hour sepsis treatment protocol may harm patients

Sepsis is a potentially deadly medical condition that requires quick treatment. However, a recently-published editorial argues that new guidelines requiring sepsis to be treated within one hour of diagnosis could actually harm patients in Kentucky and elsewhere.

In 2018, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign, or SSC, care bundle was introduced with the purpose of helping emergency department doctors quickly diagnose and treat sepsis patients. Under SSC guidelines, doctors are supposed to perform a set of specific sepsis treatments within the first 60 minutes of a patient arriving in triage. These treatments include taking lactate level measurements, obtaining blood cultures, administering broad-spectrum antibiotics, applying vasopressors and giving drugs to regulate lactate levels and hypotension. In the past, doctors were supposed to perform these treatments over three-hour or six-hour windows.

According to the authors of the editorial, which was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the SSC's one-hour care bundle places unnecessary stress on emergency department staff, which can lead to misdiagnoses and inappropriate treatments. They further contend that there is not enough evidence to show that the one-hour timeline improves patient care. As a result, the authors recommend that doctors focus their energy on identifying sepsis patients who truly need immediate intervention and then treat the remaining sepsis patients under the previous three-hour or six-hour protocols.

Medical errors are a leading cause of injury and death for Americans. Victims of misdiagnosis or other types of medical mistakes could contact a medical malpractice attorney for advice. The attorney might look over a victim's medical records and determine if doctors failed to provide the standard of care. If medical negligence is suspected, legal counsel may help the victim file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and other related damages.

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