Sepsis in Nursing Homes

July 26th, 2017 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. It can be a dangerous situation for anyone, but it’s especially grave to those who are older, disabled or have other medical conditions. It’s not unusual for Maryland nursing home residents to suffer from sepsis, often because the underlying infection isn’t treated properly, setting the stage for sepsis.

Infections are a leading cause of deaths and complications for nursing home residents, according to the author of a 2014 study on infections in nursing homes, Carolyn Herzig, MS, project director of the Prevention of Nosocomial Infections & Cost Effectiveness in Nursing Homes (PNICE-NH) at the Columbia School of Nursing.

With the exception of tuberculosis, researchers found a significant increase in infection rates “across the board.” Herzig stated, “Unless we can improve infection prevention and control in nursing homes, this problem is only going to get worse as the baby boomers age and people are able to live longer with increasingly complex, chronic diseases.” Herzig and researchers from Columbia Nursing and RAND Corporation reviewed how common infections were from 2006 to 2010 based on data that nursing homes provided the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sepsis happens if chemicals released into the bloodstream to combat the infection also trigger inflammation throughout the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. This can cause a number of changes that can result in damage to multiple organs, ultimately causing them to fail. Sepsis can progress to septic shock, which can cause blood pressure to drop dramatically and may lead to death.

Sepsis is most common and most dangerous in older adults or those with weakened immune systems. Treatment for sepsis in its early stage before it becomes more dangerous, normally with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves the chances for survival.

Any type of infection could lead to sepsis, the most likely types include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Abdominal infection
  • Kidney infection
  • Bloodstream infection (bacteremia).

Sepsis appears to be on the increase in the U.S. The causes may include:

  • Aging population: We are living longer and the highest risk age group is those older than 65.
  • Drug-resistant bacteria: Many kinds of bacteria are antibiotic resistant. They are frequently the root cause of the infections that result in sepsis.
  • Weakened immune systems: Many Americans live with weakened immune systems, caused by HIV, cancer treatments, poor nutrition, poor overall health or transplant drugs.

An infection in a nursing home resident can quickly get out of control if the resident is malnourished, suffers from dehydration and whose overall health is declining because of neglect or abuse. Proper diagnosis and treatment may also be missed if nurses, doctors and other medical staff commit medical malpractice.

If your loved one suffered through an infection or sepsis and you believe it was the result of neglect, abuse or negligence by Maryland nursing home staff or management, contact our office. We can talk about the situation, the applicable laws, what types of damages may be sought and your legal options for obtaining compensation and justice.  At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 1-866-529-5839 today to schedule a free consultation.

  • Avvo