Sepsis and Nursing Home Neglect

Sepsis in the Elderly

Sepsis may be a result of neglect or medical malpractice. If you or a loved one has suffered from sepsis while under medical care in a hospital or nursing home, seeking experienced legal counsel can help you to get compensation for pain, suffering or loss of life as a result of sepsis from neglect.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis occurs when an infection develops into further inflammatory responses in the body. Sepsis can cause high temperature, rapid heart rate and a high respiratory rate. In the elderly, sepsis is commonly due to bedsores or illness such as urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, pneumonia or IV infections. If your loved one has bed sores that are not being treated, bring the sores to the facility’s attention. Sepsis must be identified and treated quickly, before it advances into septic shock.

Sepsis has three stages. To catch sepsis before it becomes fatal, look out for symptoms including:

  • Sepsis – body temperature above 101 F, heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute and quick breathing.
  • Severe Sepsis – less frequent urination, decrease in mental function, decrease in platelet count, difficulty breathing, pain in abdomen or abnormal heart beat.
  • Septic Shock – Severe sepsis with extremely low blood pressure.

If you observe any of the following you should report a possibility of sepsis immediately:

  • visible infection
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • sudden change of mental state
  • abnormal breathing or heartbeat

How Can I Help Prevent Sepsis?

Sepsis can be prevented by asking the care facility if there is a process to reduce the chance of sepsis and sepsis-related deaths. Ask if there is a plan for residents with infections and guidelines for those with sepsis. Report any signs of infection you notice when visiting your loved one. If you are aware and involved in your loved one’s level of care, the staff should take notice.

How Do I Report Sepsis Due to Negligence?

If you believe your loved one is suffering from sepsis, you should first alert a doctor or a member of the medical staff. Sepsis is a medical emergency; if the sepsis progresses into septic shock, the patient has a risk of losing limbs, brain function or even their life.

If you believe the sepsis is a result of negligence on the part of the nursing home or malpractice by the hospital where your loved one is under care, document your observations. If he/she has severe bed sores from not being turned or rotated properly, you should take pictures (if possible) and date the incident. If you have had past trouble with reports on the nursing home care, recall and document the incident and when it occurred.

First report the negligence to the nursing home or hospital directly. Then, file an official complaint to your state’s department of health services. 

Nursing Home Neglect and Sepsis

Negligence in the nursing home from untreated infections and lack of care can result in significant financial settlements. The nursing home or medical facility may be responsible for physical, emotional and financial costs for both the resident and their family.

Signs of nursing home neglect that may result in sepsis include:

  • untreated wounds
  • bed sores
  • persistent infections
  • poor hygiene
  • unsterile practices while tending to catheters and IVs

If you notice the signs of sepsis along with signs of nursing home neglect, you may have a case. Be sure to report symptoms of sepsis to a medical professional as soon as possible.

Wrongful Death

If the sepsis develops into septic shock and results in death, you and your family can seek compensation for wrongful death. Your family or attorney must be able to demonstrate that the death was wrongful by proving that the nursing home had a duty to the patient to care for them and that their duty was breached. The breach must have been the cause of death (i.e. a nursing home not turning the patient enough, resulting in bed sores.) The person filing must be able to prove that the loss of their loved one resulted in financial loss such as loss of income, funeral expenses or loss of services.

Hiring an experienced nursing home sepsis lawyer

Sepsis is life-threatening, but can be avoided or treated with proper care from the hospital or nursing home. If a minor injury, illness or infection developed into sepsis, you may have a case for nursing home abuse and neglect.

Hiring an experienced lawyer can help you to uncover the facts and fight for your rights to compensation for your loved one in the event of negligence.

If your loved one suffered from sepsis due to neglect, Dansky | Katz | Ringold, we will provide trusted legal counsel in your fight for legal and financial compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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