What is Sepsis?
Sepsis, also known as septic shock, is a bacterial infection in the blood stream usually caused by an infection. It is a life-threatening disease if not treated properly. Elderly and other immuno-compromised people are at high-risk for sepsis as their immune systems are typically weakened.
Causes of Sepsis
- Bedsores: Bedsores develop frequently in nursing home and hospital patients/residents. When a resident is left unattended for long periods of time without movement, they can develop bedsores. Bed sores can lead to serious wounds and infections which can then lead to sepsis.
- Intravenous Lines: Since intravenous lines come in direct contact with the blood stream, victims may end up developing sepsis if they are not properly cared for. For example, the insertion site in the skin requires regular cleaning and sanitizing. If this is neglected, the area can become infected resulting in bacteria reaching the bloodstream.
- Wounds from Surgery: People who have undergone surgery need medicine, such as antibiotics, in order to heal properly. If medication is not taken regularly, wounds are slower to heal which could cause sepsis.
- Undiagnosed Infections: Infections are often undiagnosed most commonly in an emergency room setting in which an individual goes to the hospital with symptoms of infection, or other SIRS criteria, that are not recognized. This may ultimately lead to sepsis and septic shock.
Side Effects of Sepsis or Septic Shock
According to research performed by Life Science, sepsis has devastating consequences particularly for elderly individuals. Not only do victims experience medical consequences, but emotional consequences as well. Some of the side effects of sepsis and septic shock include, but are not limited to:
- Low Blood Pressure: Older people who suffer from sepsis are usually the highest risk group for low blood pressure. However, most victims of sepsis suffer from low blood pressure.
- Cognitive Problems: Memory loss and impairment have been linked to older adults who suffer some sepsis.
- Amputation: Undiagnosed sepsis, when finally recognized, can require the use of vasopressers in order to maintain the person’s blood pressure sufficiently to keep them alive while antibiotics kill the infection. Unfortunately, these drugs, while life-saving, can cause gangrene which may ultimately lead to the amputation of limbs.
- Gangrene: When sepsis goes undiagnosed by a hospital or doctor the infection can begin to cause parts of the body, particularly the fingers, hands, toes and feet, to die and become gangrenous.
- High fever
- Rapid breathing
- Kidney failure
Sepsis Treatment Options
It is important to remember that septic shock should be considered a medical emergency and should be treated immediately. Typically, physicians will give victims antibiotics to start out. The type of antibiotic will depend on the severity of the infection, but “broad-spectrum” antibiotics are almost always given at first, which combats all forms of bacteria. The antibiotics are administered intravenously so that the medication hits the bloodstream quickly.
Antibiotics, however, aren’t always enough to combat the strong infections that sepsis brings with it. Fluids are greatly needed to battle sepsis, and a saline-type fluid which contains minerals and sodium is typically provided to the patient. Fluids are usually administered intravenously as well.
Other forms of treatment options include corticosteroids, incubation, renal replacement therapy, vasopressors, and catheters.
What should I do if I believe my loved one is the victim of sepsis and negligence?
Contact an experienced medical malpractice law firm in order to discuss your loved one’s legal rights. The Brown Wharton & Brothers Law Firm handles cases in which people have had the signs and symptoms of sepsis that went misdiagnosed at a nursing home or hospital, as well as cases in which a person developed septicemia or sepsis while in a hospital or nursing home.
Hospital or Nursing Home Sepsis or Septic Shock Lawsuits
When hospital or nursing home staff members fail to properly care for residents, sepsis can occur. For example, a common way that victims develop sepsis is from bedsores. Bedsores may result from nursing home staff members failing to assist residents move around every few hours, thus inhibiting circulation and oxygen flow to the parts of the body that remain unmoved. In addition, failing to provide medication, failing to properly bandage wounds, and failure to monitor health closely are among other reasons that nursing homes may be liable if a resident develops septic shock.
Getting Legal Help
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of undiagnosed or untreated sepsis, an experienced medical malpractice nursing home abuse attorney may be able to assist you. At Brown Wharton & Brothers, our team of nursing home abuse and medical malpractice attorneys have helped numerous victims seek justice in their sepsis and septic shock lawsuits across the nation. Give us a call today, or fill out our online inquiry form, and we will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.