If left untreated, an infection can quickly go from bad to worse when a patient develops sepsis. Nursing home staff have limited time to treat sepsis before it progresses to septic shock—a condition with a mortality rate of nearly 50%.
If nursing home staff fail to treat an infection promptly, and sepsis develops and injures or claims a resident’s life, you could be entitled to compensation for any damages. Attorney Mac Hester of Nursing Home Justice has over 35 years of legal experience. He knows what it takes to gain respect for your family if they’re injured in a long-term care facility.
Contact us at (303) 775-8128 today to schedule your free consultation.
Sepsis is simply defined as the body’s life-threatening response to an infection. Typically, your body’s immune system fights off an infection. However, sometimes—for reasons unknown—your immune system starts attacking everything, including your healthy tissue.
This kickstarts the overwhelming inflammatory response, otherwise known as sepsis.
There are three stages of sepsis: systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), severe sepsis, and septic shock. The following provides descriptions for each of these stages:
If nursing home staff and medical professionals don’t act quickly, sepsis could lead to organ failure, tissue damage, and the death of a resident in less than 12 hours. Research from the Centers for Disease Control states that 1 in 3 patients diagnosed with sepsis die. This rate could increase to 50% when patients are diagnosed with septic shock.
Survivors are often haunted by their traumatic experiences with sepsis. Research suggests that almost half of them are diagnosed with post-sepsis syndrome. This condition causes victims to experience nightmares, panic attacks, depression, and other life-changing symptoms after their hospitalization for sepsis.
Sepsis is caused by an infection in the body, which can be traced back to germs and bacteria.
The following germs could cause infections that result in sepsis:
Although any infection could lead to sepsis, these five are the most common:
Sepsis can be tricky to identify in nursing home residents because a patient’s chronic condition might be mistaken for a symptom of sepsis. For example, nursing home residents might have cognitive impairments or respiratory issues because of a preexisting condition, not because they’re developing sepsis. If nursing home staff misdiagnose a resident with sepsis, it could lead to unnecessary treatment and complications.
On the contrary, if a nursing home ignores signs of sepsis and writes them off as a symptom of their chronic condition, residents might not be treated at all. Another reason sepsis is hard to identify is that residents might not show any signs. For example, as residents age, they lose the ability to develop a fever to fight off infections, and staff members may overlook sepsis until it’s too late.
Given that sepsis can be challenging to diagnose, nursing home staff must be trained to know the warning signs of sepsis and pay close attention to any acute changes in a patient’s condition.
Although the signs of sepsis vary, here are the general symptoms nursing homes should look for:
If a nursing home suspects sepsis in a resident, they must closely monitor the patient’s vitals to ensure they don’t develop a fever or sudden change in their heart rate. If unsure whether a resident has sepsis, staff should contact a medical professional and simply ask.
The Sepsis Alliance recommends using the helpful acronym TIME to identify sepsis: Temperature, Infection, Mental Decline, and Extremely Ill. Other institutions, such as the Minnesota Hospital Association, recommend using the 100/100/100 rule. The criteria for this rule include the following:
Nursing home staff must be trained to identify sepsis and provide initial treatment because sepsis begins before a patient arrives at a hospital approximately 87% of the time. Initial treatment might include intravenous fluids and antibiotics within the first hour of identification to stop sepsis from progressing.
Studies have shown that each hour without antibiotic treatment decreases the survival rate by almost 8%.
Although some nursing homes have enough qualified personnel to monitor severe infections, residents with sepsis will most likely need to be immediately transferred to a hospital. In that case, it’s essential to present any documentation stating how a resident wishes to be cared for.
A resident may forgo hospital treatment, requesting that the condition be treated within the nursing home. If a resident chooses to be transferred, they can detail the type of care they wish to receive.
When a nursing home causes the injury or death of a loved one, you must determine who is liable to ensure you recover the compensation your family needs.
Sepsis is often a result of neglectful nursing homes that fail to treat an existing infection. Nursing homes with poor hygiene, a lack of trained staff members, and inadequate infection control policies could contribute to a resident’s infection, leading to sepsis.
Nursing homes might also misdiagnose residents and force them to undergo treatments they don’t need, which results in further complications. Additionally, if nursing homes ignore the signs of sepsis and their negligence results in a resident’s death, staff members, management companies, and the nursing home itself could be liable for any damages. Your attorney can identify all liable parties and gather evidence to prove their negligence
If the nursing home caused you or your loved one’s damages, you can file a personal injury lawsuit with your attorney to recover the compensation you need for the following:
If sepsis caused the death of your loved one, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover the following damages:
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