Sepsis in Nursing Home Residents
Our law firm fights to hold negligent facilities accountable
Sepsis is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that results from an untreated infection. Nursing home residents are at a high risk of developing sepsis due to age and often preexisting health conditions. This risk increases even higher for nursing home residents who have experienced abuse or neglect.
At Hal Waldman & Associates, we work to support victims of nursing home abuse and neglect in Pennsylvania. Pursuing legal action against a facility or its staff can seem intimidating. That’s why we provide guidance to uphold families and their loved ones in their pursuit of justice. With us, you’ll never feel alone.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis happens when the body tries to fight off an untreated infection. The body’s heightened response causes inflammation and swelling in different parts of the body. This can disrupt blood flow, cause organs to malfunction, and potentially shut down.
What is septic shock?
Untreated sepsis can lead to septic shock. This complication of sepsis affects blood pressure. Blood pressure can drop rapidly as the body tries to fight off infection. This drop in blood pressure can cause major organs to fail and is life-threatening, sometimes leading to death. Septic shock is a medical emergency that requires urgent attention.
What type of infections cause sepsis?
Any infection can lead to sepsis if it is not treated correctly. In nursing homes, the most common causes of sepsis include:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Skin infections (e.g., bedsores that become infected)
- Gastrointestinal tract infections
- Lung infections
These infections can be caused by weak immune systems, surgery, or wounds and can be life-threatening, especially to elderly nursing home residents.
Symptoms of sepsis
Since sepsis is caused by the body fighting off an infection, the symptoms of sepsis often mirror those of infections. Someone with sepsis may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Low temperature
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Pale skin
- Sweaty or clammy skin
- Pain or discomfort
How sepsis develops from nursing home neglect
Sepsis can develop from nursing home neglect when infections are not treated or managed. One of a nursing home’s most important responsibilities is to monitor residents for signs of infection and provide prompt treatment if an infection is discovered. If a facility fails to check residents for signs of infection, they can let the problem fester until it’s too late.
The underlying infection itself may also be a result of nursing home neglect. For instance, bedsores can occur when facilities fail to turn residents over in bed regularly. Urinary tract infections can be caused by poor hygiene and failure to assist residents with toileting. Dehydration and malnutrition don’t cause sepsis directly, but they can weaken the immune system and leave the resident more vulnerable to infections.
How is sepsis diagnosed?
Sepsis is diagnosed through a combination of medical assessments, such as checking for signs of infection like fever, rapid heartbeat, and high breathing rate. Blood tests are done to identify infections and abnormalities in the blood. Medical professionals will also look for changes in organ function.
Can sepsis be treated?
Sepsis can be treated, but successful treatment relies heavily on immediate medical attention. Since sepsis is considered a medical emergency, residents who have sepsis need to be hospitalized. Sepsis is treated with antibiotics to kill the infection. Treatment for more severe cases of sepsis may involve vasopressors to enhance blood pressure, pain relievers, and other medications to control the immune system's response.
We stand up to negligent nursing homes
When your loved one suffers from sepsis, in the worst-case scenario, you could lose them. That’s why the attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates take cases of sepsis so seriously. We hold negligent nursing homes accountable when they cause residents severe harm.