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Sepsis in Nursing Homes

sepsis in nursing homes

Sepsis is a serious medical condition that poses a great threat to nursing home residents.  If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in severe illness or even death.  Caregivers and family members should be aware that sepsis can be a warning sign of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Learn how to recognize sepsis and the factors that cause it and contribute to its worsening. Understanding how to prevent and combat sepsis can help you improve or even save the life of a vulnerable adult in nursing home care.

If you have witnessed or experienced sepsis in nursing homes, call 1-866-548-9636.  There may be compensation available to aid in treatment and prevention.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur when your body is fighting a bacterial, viral or fungal infection.  When you have an infection, your body responds by releasing chemicals into your bloodstream to fight it.  When those chemicals are out of balance or overwhelm your body, sepsis can develop.  The result is serious illness that can damage your organs.

Reduced blood flow to vital organs such as your heart, brain or kidneys can impair their ability to function properly.  Sepsis can cause blood clots to form in organs and extremities, increasing the risk of stroke, embolism and gangrene.

Without immediate intervention and appropriate treatment, sepsis can evolve into septic shock.  The extreme drop in blood pressure caused by septic shock can result in death.

Who is Most At Risk of Developing Sepsis?

Sepsis in nursing homes is not uncommon as residents typically have more risk factors than the general public.  However, sepsis can happen to anyone.  Those most at risk include:

  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant women
  • Infants
  • Patients with chronic health conditions including diabetes, kidney disease, lung diseases, or cancer
  • Those with weakened immune systems
  • People with cuts, burns or other open wounds

Some situational factors increase the risk of developing sepsis, as well.  These include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Digestive system infections
  • Kidney or bladder infection
  • Bloodstream infection
  • Patients in or recently released from the hospital
  • Intensive care patients
  • Nursing home residents on antibiotics or corticosteroids
  • People with breathing tubes or intravenous catheters

If you suspect that you or a person in your care has sepsis, seek medical treatment immediately.  If the affected person is a nursing home resident, call 1-866-548-9636 to find out your options for protecting the patient. 

sepsis in nursing homes

What Are the Symptoms of Sepsis?

If you work in a nursing home or have a family member in a nursing home, get to know the signs of sepsis.  It is critical that you seek medical attention immediately.  Early diagnosis and treatment dramatically improves the prognosis for sepsis patients.

Watch for these sepsis symptoms, particularly in those with an elevated risk of developing the infection:

  • Unexplained change in mental status in a person with a probable or confirmed infection (whether bacterial, viral, or fungal in nature)
  • Lowered blood pressure, specifically a systolic pressure reading (the first number) at or below 100 milliliters of mercury (mm Hg)
  • Rapid breathing, specifically at or higher than 22 breaths per minute

Recognize the symptoms of septic shock and seek immediate, emergency medical care in case of:

  • Systolic blood pressure that cannot remain above 65 milliliters of mercury (mm Hg) without medication
  • Elevated lactic acid in the bloodstream even after ensuring that the patient is adequately hydrated

Prompt, adequate medical care is critical in cases of septic shock.  Do not delay.

When Is Sepsis in Nursing Homes a Sign of Neglect or Abuse?

Sepsis can be an important warning sign of neglect, abuse or other mistreatment in nursing homes.  Nursing home residents are inherently more vulnerable to sepsis due to their advanced age.  Even so, investigate the circumstances surrounding a patient’s sepsis anytime it is:

  • Left untreated
  • Recurring or frequent
  • Caused by unexplained injury
  • Caused by bedsores or other wounds that may indicate nursing home neglect

Nursing home conditions should be sufficiently sanitary to prevent recurring infections.  If you or a loved one has suffered repeated bouts of sepsis, watch for these common contributors to the conditions in which sepsis and other infections can flourish:

  • Bed linens that are not changed and cleaned regularly
  • Insufficient cleaning and sanitation of washrooms, food preparation, and serving areas, and common areas
  • Inadequately laundered clothing
  • Overworked, inattentive staff unable to provide an appropriate level of personal care and hygiene services to each resident
  • Downplaying of medical complaints or wait times for treatment when emergency care is needed
  • Lack of hot water
  • Failure to bathe residents properly or often enough

What Can You Do About Sepsis in Nursing Homes?

The priority is to ensure the immediate safety of the resident.  Seek medical attention immediately when you suspect sepsis or septic shock in anyone who has an infection. 

Where sepsis has been caused or worsened by nursing home neglect or abuse, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help get the ball rolling to ensure the patient’s safety and security – not only today but for the rest of their life.

Compensation for nursing home abuse or neglect can help pay for medical treatment, personal care services, therapies and ongoing care.  You may also be eligible for compensation for the patient’s pain and suffering.

In cases where the victim is deceased, compensation can pay for medical expenses prior to death, funeral and burial costs, and the suffering experienced before the victim’s passing.

Call 1-866-548-9636 today to learn more about the options available to those who have suffered sepsis in nursing homes.