In nursing home abuse cases, sepsis often develops. Sepsis is a condition that results from an infection—a type of chain reaction that is triggered in the stomach, kidneys, lungs, or bladder. While bacterial infections often lead to sepsis, other infections also can manifest into the illness.
For example, blood poisoning or pneumonia, or similar illnesses can develop into a severe immune response. Whenever you experience any type of infection, the immune system springs into action, releasing substances and proteins to combat the illness. When sepsis develops, it means the response is out of control, which triggers inflammation.
Besides bacterial infections, sepsis can develop, more specifically, from fungal infections, COVID-19, and the flu. Sepsis may cause the patient to have trouble breathing. In some cases, they may develop an increased heart rate or fever.
In any of these instances, doctors must act fast to treat the illness, or prevent septic shock, a medical condition related to organ failure, reduced blood pressure, and widespread tissue damage.
To understand how sepsis develops, it helps to look at the three stages of progression. Inflammation from an infection is what causes the chain reaction. If a patient is not properly treated and an infection develops, you’ll need to review the circumstances with a knowledgeable nursing home abuse attorney.
The first stage is known as sepsis or systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), occurs when the body’s immune system launches an overwhelming response to an infection. This initial stage is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including fever, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing. In some cases, the infection may be localized, such as in an open wound or a urinary tract infection, but it can also spread throughout the body.
During the first stage of sepsis, the body begins to show signs of an immune response gone haywire. The immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight off the infection, but these chemicals can also cause wide-ranging inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can damage organs and disrupt normal bodily functions, leading to further complications if not treated promptly.
This stage is commonly referred to as severe sepsis. As the body tries to fight off the infection, the immune system can overreact and cause widespread inflammation, damaging organs and tissues.
One of the key characteristics of the second stage of sepsis is the onset of organ dysfunction. The inflammation can lead to decreased blood flow to vital organs, compromising their function. Commonly affected organs include the kidneys, liver, and lungs. As organ function deteriorates, patients may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, decreased urine output, and confusion.
The third stage of sepsis is the aforementioned septic shock phase, a severe complication that, again, reduces blood pressure and affects respiration. During this stage, heart failure or a stroke may occur, or the patient may end up dying.
Unfortunately, nursing home neglect often leads to sepsis, especially when certain protocols against infection aren’t met. For example, patient rooms should be cleaned properly, and staff members should isolate residents who show signs of illness.
Healthcare providers should wear gowns, gloves, and masks when following the protocol for isolation. They should also wash their hands before treating each patient.
Septic shock is characterized by severe symptoms such as rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, confusion, and decreased urine output. The body’s immune system, instead of fighting the infection, starts attacking its own organs and tissues, causing widespread damage.
Prompt medical intervention is critical in the third stage of sepsis. Treatment may involve aggressive fluid resuscitation, administration of antibiotics, and supportive care to stabilize blood pressure. In some cases, patients may require intensive care monitoring and organ support through methods such as mechanical ventilation or dialysis.
Sepsis is caused by an infection that enters your bloodstream and triggers an overwhelming immune response. Common sources of infection can include pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and skin infections. If left untreated, sepsis can progress to septic shock, a life-threatening condition characterized by significantly low blood pressure and organ failure.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of sepsis is crucial for early detection and treatment. The common signs of sepsis include a high fever, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, confusion, dizziness, and decreased urination. It’s important to note that the symptoms of sepsis can vary from person to person.
Early diagnosis of sepsis is critical for a successful outcome. Medical professionals use various tests to determine if someone has sepsis, including blood tests, urine tests, imaging scans, and cultures to identify the source of the infection.
Treating sepsis typically involves addressing the underlying infection, providing supportive care, and managing complications. Antibiotics are commonly used to combat the infection, and intravenous fluids and medications are administered to stabilize blood pressure and support vital organ function. In severe cases, intensive care may be required, including mechanical ventilation and kidney dialysis.
While anyone can develop sepsis, certain individuals are at a higher risk. Factors that increase the risk of sepsis include advanced age, weakened immune system, chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer, invasive medical procedures, and prolonged hospitalization.
If you believe that medical negligence has contributed to your loved one’s sepsis diagnosis in a nursing home, it is essential to consult with a nursing home neglect attorney who can evaluate your case and provide guidance on your legal rights.
Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) may also result when patients are transferred from hospital settings into the nursing home. Also, if bedsores are not properly treated, the patient may experience sepsis.
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) states that, even with innovations in sepsis treatments, sepsis happens regularly among older adults transferred from a hospital to a long-term care facility.
Healthcare workers who note sepsis symptoms, such as chills or fever, difficult respiration, pain, or sweaty skin, may mistake these ailments for another illness, such as cancer or pneumonia. This can easily happen in nursing homes that are understaffed.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) website adds that, under global human rights legislation, everyone, including people living in nursing homes, has the right to a high level of care. This care includes protection from mistreatment, neglect, and abuse.
If your loved one has sepsis, and you believe it’s from neglect, you need to speak to an injury lawyer without delay. Gaining justice and compensation for this type of negligence is something that you need to review with a competent legal advisor. Don’t handle this type of matter yourself. Rely on a Chicago home abuse attorney to guide you in your case.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023