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What is Sepsis and How Does It Develop?
Failure to provide adequate medical care to the elderly in nursing homes and other senior care facilities can lead to dangerous and life-threatening medical complications. One of these complications may be sepsis, a blood infection that can lead to septic shock, organ failure, and death. Any infection in the body, whether in the lungs, urinary tract, kidneys, skin, or elsewhere can deteriorate into sepsis. With weakened immune systems, the elderly are at a higher risk for sepsis than other individuals. Neglect on the part of caregivers can contribute to or create these serious consequences.
When an elder suffers an injury – such as a broken bone from a fall or a pressure sore from immobility – it can result in an infection. If it’s not properly cared for in a timely manner, bacteria from the infection can flow through the bloodstream and spread throughout the rest of the patient’s body. This is a very serious medical condition called sepsis, also known as blood poisoning.
The elderly are highly susceptible to sepsis because they not only have weaker immune systems – making it a harder for them to fight off infections – but may already have serious illnesses or medical conditions that make it easier for them to develop infections in the first place. These conditions can include:
- Kidney or urinary tract problems
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Unsanitized devices including catheters or an intubation apparatus
- Preexisting injuries
Infections affecting the elderly in nursing homes and senior care facilities need close monitoring and treatment, otherwise they can cause widespread inflammation throughout the whole body. When this occurs, blood pressure drops and oxygen no longer reaches organs and tissues, causing serious physical damage. For these residents, neglect can play a huge part in why these infections develop into life-threatening complications due to sepsis. Family members should be aware of these problematic scenarios and question the circumstances.
Early Signs of Sepsis
Sepsis is one of the most common reasons for which nursing home residents are transferred to a hospital, with an estimated 1.5 million hospitalizations each year and a total of 270,000 sepsis-related deaths.
It is crucial to know the signs of sepsis so that it can be treated in its earliest stages. There are three stages, which are categorized as basic sepsis, severe sepsis, and sceptic shock. The symptoms for each stage are as follows:
- Basic Sepsis: The patient has an unusually high or low body temperature (a fever above 101.3 degrees or a temperature below 95 degrees), a rapid heart rate over 90 beats per minute, and a rapid respiration rate of over 20 breaths per minute.
- Severe Sepsis: Organ dysfunction has begun. The patient has difficulty breathing, feels pain in the stomach or abdomen regions, exhibits abnormal heart pumping speeds, decreased urine output, and shows mental deterioration, confusion, lack of attention or agitation.
- Sceptic Shock: The patient enters a state of shock, exhibiting all the previous symptoms plus a very severe drop in blood pressure. By this point, it can be very difficult for medical professionals to restore the patient’s blood pressure to normal.
As mentioned above, early detection is key especially among senior citizens because the condition can advance to more severe stages very quickly. Not just that, but about 50% of those who survive sepsis (especially stages 2 and 3) develop something called post-sepsis syndrome (PSS), which can include physical or psychological long-term effects such as difficulty sleeping, hallucinations, panic attacks, disabling muscle joint pain, and decreased cognitive functioning.
Diagnosing sepsis is not always easy because the symptoms can be similar to other medical conditions, so it’s vital that the nursing home staff is well-versed in recognizing, diagnosing, and treating sepsis in the most timely fashion.
Has your loved one contracted sepsis due to nursing home negligence? An elder abuse attorney at Berberian Ain, LLP can help. Call (818) 808-0048 for a free case evaluation.
Sepsis Due to Nursing Home Neglect
Sepsis is a very common problem in nursing homes, but it would be an oversight to pin this solely on the residents’ advanced age or vulnerable immune systems. More often than not, the root of the problem is neglect, abuse, or mistreatment within the facility.
While sepsis itself isn’t contagious, the bacterial infections that cause it are, so it goes without saying that every nursing home’s first line of defense against sepsis should be proper infection control. This includes well-implemented hygiene procedures, decontamination of medical equipment, washing linen or clothing, and cleaning facility areas such as bathrooms and activity rooms.
Unfortunately, an astonishing number of facilities fail to follow state and federal guidelines. Research by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has shown that 72% of U.S. nursing homes have been cited for not having or not adhering to an infection-control program.
Other warning signs of neglect or abuse on the part of senior care facility staff leading to medical problems associated with sepsis can include:
- Untreated bedsores or cuts
- Not washing hands or using gloves when providing care to residents with infectious diseases
- Lack of supervision on the part of management or owners
- Poorly trained or under-qualified employees
- Insufficient staff to clean soaked diapers and beddingOvercrowded facility with an increased risk of spreading infection
- Poor pay which leads to high turnover and poor work quality
- Lack of policies and protocols that would prevent medical problems
- Inadequate or poor equipment
Experienced Attorneys for Sepsis-Related Lawsuits in California
While the causes of sceptic infections may vary, lack of proper care or treatment should never be one of them. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that can lead to organ damage, cognitive impairment, physical harm, and even death. There’s no room for laziness, negligence, ignorance, or refusal to follow the most basic standards of hygiene when a person’s safety is in jeopardy.
Our firm is passionate about standing up for the rights of the elderly who suffer at the hands of those charged with their care. If you suspect that your loved one has suffered sepsis or other negative consequences due to senior care facility neglect, you can be assured that our lawyers experienced in sepsis malpractice and wrongful death will tenaciously seek the justice you deserve through a claim for compensatory damages.
We’re Here to Help. Contact Us Today!
Your case may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but there are others who have been in similar situations and found a way forward. Our team can help you make the next steps. Contact Berberian Ain LLP today to schedule a free initial consultation with our lawyers. You can also call us at 818-808-0048.