Nursing Home Sepsis
Sepsis in Nursing Homes
What is Sepsis?
Contrary to popular belief, sepsis is not an infection. Instead, sepsis is the body’s response to an infection. This means that you must first have an infection somewhere in your body before sepsis occurs.
The body will do just about anything to protect itself. This response can cause the body to damage healthy tissues, which causes the organs to function poorly or malfunction.
Sepsis occurs when your body overreacts to an infection. This overreaction can result in permanent injury or death.
Sepsis in nursing homes can be caused by infections resulting from bedsores or improper wound care, which elderly patients or bedridden patients are particularly vulnerable to.
Other causes of infections include:
- Urinary tract infection (AKA: bladder infections)
- Kidney infections
- Bloodstream infections
- Bacterial infections
- Digestive system infections
Stages of Sepsis
Sepsis is divided into three stages:
- First Stage Sepsis: The body releases toxins into the bloodstream to fight the infection. This can cause body temperature to rise up to or over 101 degrees. The patient’s blood pressure and heartbeat rises and breathing is faster.
- Second Stage Sepsis: If the patient isn’t treated, sepsis progresses to the second stage. This stage is also known as “severe sepsis.” These symptoms include declining cognitive function, infrequent urination, difficulty breathing, decreased platelet count, and abdominal pain.
- Third Stage Sepsis: This stage is also called “septic shock.” This stage requires immediate attention, as this is a medical emergency, and oftentimes, those who suffer from septic shock die.
With early treatment, the sepsis survival rate is very promising, with some individuals being completely healed within a matter of weeks or months. But when elderly residents don’t receive immediate medical care once sepsis develops, it can result in death.
When a Chicago nursing home fails to take adequate infection precautions, and this results in the nursing home resident developing sepsis, then the nursing home facility may be liable for the ramifications. If you suspect negligence within a Chicago nursing home, don’t wait. Call Curcio Law Offices at 312-321-1111 for a free legal case review.
How Does Sepsis Lead to Septic Shock?
Sepsis leads to septic shock when the sepsis progresses through the four stages without critical care medicine. Once the patient reaches the septic shock stage, the chances of mortality are doubled.
The body will experience the following:
- Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome: or SIRS, is the initial stage of the body’s inflammatory response to an infection.
- Sepsis: Lack of timely treatment for SIRS can cause someone to begin experiencing sepsis symptoms.
- Severe Sepsis: Sepsis that has progressed and spread to organ dysfunction.
- Septic Shock: Sepsis that has spread and taken over many body portions, causing massive system dysfunction.
Sepsis in Chicago Nursing Homes
Chicago nursing home residents with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk for developing sepsis. Oftentimes, sepsis occurs when nursing home residents develop urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, or other types of mismanaged nursing home infections.
Nursing homes or assisted living facilities play a significant role in a resident’s health prognosis. Adequately checking high risk patients for sepsis symptoms, such as respiratory problems or reoccurring blood clots, can save a patient from blood poisoning. Preventing sepsis in nursing homes should be a priority for caretakers, and when it isn’t, elderly residents can lose their lives.
Why are Nursing Home Residents Vulnerable to Sepsis?
Nursing home residents have an increased risk for developing sepsis for many reasons. However, most of those reasons stem from nursing home negligence.
Typically, older adults with weakened immune systems are the more vulnerable population, making them more susceptible to chronic medical conditions. For this reason, providing immediate treatment is key to stopping the body’s inflammatory response when an elderly patient does develop an infection. Unfortunately medical treatment in nursing homes isn’t always what it should be.
Regardless if the act was intentional or if the negligence was a result of understaffing, improper training, or poor infection control, families that fall victim to nursing homes sepsis deserve answers and compensation.
How is a Nursing Home Responsible for Sepsis?
A nursing home may be liable for sepsis if the nursing home staff caused the underlying infection or failed to recognize the symptoms of sepsis in nursing home patients. Every nursing home must take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of infections, especially urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia, and pressure ulcer infections.
Higher risk residents with compromised immune systems should stay away from those who are sick, in general. And when the nursing home fails to prevent infection, it could be liable for neglect.
Furthermore, if nursing home caretakers are careless with catheters, IVs, or other medical tools, nursing home residents can also contract avoidable sepsis infections.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a legal obligation to provide a reasonable level of care for their patients. This includes providing professional medical advice, preventing infections, and helping the nursing home resident to live without consistent pain.
Many infections that lead to sepsis in nursing homes worsen when the elderly patient is transferred from the nursing home or assisted living facility to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). These transfers could have been avoided if the nursing home staff followed the established infection control program when they provided care.
Sepsis is avoidable when the facility maintains sanitary conditions, cleans insertion sites and medical equipment, keeps residents moving as much as possible, and confines germs to the smallest location possible.
When a nursing home fails to take these precautions and a patient develops sepsis, the facility may be liable for damages through a nursing home sepsis lawsuit. This means that they may be responsible for any out of pocket expenses, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
How Do I File a Lawsuit Against a Chicago Nursing Home for Sepsis?
Patients who develop sepsis in nursing homes due to nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect have a right to file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.
In Illinois, lawsuits for sepsis in nursing homes are divided into two separate claims: wrongful death lawsuits and estate claims for personal injury. Wrongful death lawsuits are typically brought by the surviving spouse or children of the deceased, while estate claims are brought by the deceased resident’s estate.
The victim’s nursing home neglect lawyer or the family’s wrongful death lawyer will need to prove four elements in order to resolve their claim either through a negotiated settlement or through a trial.
Elements of Negligence for Nursing Home Sepsis Claims
The four elements of negligence include:
- The nursing home or assisted living facility owed the victim a duty of care to ensure their health was a priority.
- The duty of care was breached through either nursing home neglect, abuse, intention action, or mistreatment.
- The victim suffered harm due to this abuse or neglect.
- As a result of the breach of duty, the victim has economic or non-economic losses, or both.
Hundreds of Illinois nursing homes have faced serious penalties and fines due to violations involving nursing home abuse, neglect, and mistreatment of their patients. Most of the cases involved a preventable infection, such as a urinary tract infection, festering surgical wounds, and bedsore injuries, all which lead to nursing homes sepsis injuries.
If your loved one developed sepsis while staying in a nursing home, you may have a valid nursing home abuse claim.
This means that the nursing home could be responsible for the economic and non-economic damages like medical bills from the Medicaid services, out-of-pocket expenses (including hospital transfers), and pain and suffering from the emotional distress of the medical malpractice case, etc.
To learn more about how our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers can help your family during this trying time, call 312-321-1111 for a free case evaluation.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer from Curcio Law Offices
Severe sepsis in nursing homes goes hand in hand with nursing home abuse. If your family member or loved one has continual problems with underlying health conditions like pressure ulcers, UTIs, or open wounds in a Chicago nursing home, time is of the essence!
If you suspect that your loved one contracted or died from sepsis due to elder abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Curcio Law Offices at 312-321-1111 for a free legal case review.