Families want the best care possible provided to their loved ones in nursing homes. However, one of the most dangerous conditions, sepsis, occurs under the supervision of nursing staff as a result of inadequate or negligent care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that between the years of 1999 to 2014, 75 percent of sepsis deaths occurred in individuals over the age of 65. The lawyers at Tittle & Perlmuter are committed to fighting for nursing home residents’ rights to having a safe environment, free from avoidable contraction of sepsis.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis occurs when the immune system responds to an infection in the body, where that immune response causes inflammation and injury to tissues and organs. This reaction can cause impaired blood flow to vital organs, such as the brain, heart and kidneys leading to organ failure.
The Mayo Clinic defines sepsis as a condition involving three stages. The first involves a probable or confirmed infection as well as at least two of the following symptoms:
- Body temperature above 101 degrees Fahrenheit or below 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heart rate higher than 90 beats per minute
- Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths per minute
The next, called severe sepsis, is diagnosed when an individual has one of the following symptoms that could mean an organ is failing:
- Decreased urine output
- Abrupt change in mental status
- Decrease in platelet count
- Difficulty breathing
- Abnormal heart pumping function
- Abdominal pain
If the sepsis is not treated immediately, the condition can reach the life-threatening third stage, known as septic shock. Septic shock means the individual has those symptoms indicative of severe sepsis as well as extremely low blood pressure and doesn’t respond to fluid replacement.
Fifty percent of those who develop septic shock die, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What Causes Sepsis?
Any type of infection – bacterial, viral, or fungal – can lead to sepsis. Some of the most common causes are pneumonia, abdominal infections, kidney infections or bloodstream infections. The Mayo Clinic states that the highest risk age group to develop sepsis is those who are 65 or older. Additional risk factors for getting sepsis include:
- Weakened immune system
- Untreated wounds or other injuries
- Invasive devices (such as a catheter or port)
Nursing home residents are particularly susceptible to contracting sepsis. Sepsis has a complicated treatment plan and if nursing home staff isn’t properly trained on how to identify and prevent the condition, it can result in residents going into septic shock.
What to Look For
Not only should nursing homes train their staff to efficiently detect sepsis, but they should also provide a safe and clean environment for residents. Infections that turn into sepsis could be the direct result of nursing home negligence or abuse. The following factors should be carefully monitored to reduce the risk of facility-acquired infections:
- Are linens cleaned normally?
- Does the resident have untreated wounds or bedsores?
- Does the resident wear the same outfit multiple days in a row?
- Is the nursing home staff inattentive, overworked or understaffed?
- Are the living areas cleaned regularly (bathroom, kitchen, common areas)?
- Does the resident complain about neglect?
- Is hot water and regular body cleanings provided?
The CDC lists the following as signs and symptoms to be aware of that could be the result of an infection, as well as sepsis:
- Sore throat
- Shivering, fever, or very cold
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Clammy or sweaty skin
- Confusion or disorientation
- Short of breath
- High heart rate
Call Tittle & Perlmuter Today for a Free Consultation
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that should be taken very seriously. The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Tittle & Perlmuter are ready to listen to your case and advise you on the best course of action. Call (216) 308-1522 for a free consultation or fill out an online contact form. We will promptly respond back to you. We can meet with you at your convenience, even on evenings and weekends.