Nursing Homes and Sepsis: An Underreported Crisis

Nursing Homes

Sepsis has become a major issue for elderly residents of nursing homes. However, this is more commonly a problem in nursing homes that are understaffed, neglectful, or poorly maintained. If you’re in a situation where you’re helping a nursing home patient deal with sepsis, there is some crucial information that you simply must know about. To help you, here is a guide to dealing with sepsis in nursing homes:

Understanding Sepsis (and its 3 Stages)


Sepsis is a potentially fatal medical disease that can develop as the body fights an infection. The body releases specific molecules into the bloodstream to combat bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. Sepsis may result from an imbalance of these substances. Sepsis can cause major health issues, such as irreversible organ damage, in nursing home residents. Blood flow to crucial organs like the kidneys, heart, and brain can be reduced by sepsis. Septic shock can result from sepsis if it is not treated properly. This severe drop in blood pressure has the potential to be lethal. Blood clots brought on by sepsis can significantly raise the risk of pulmonary embolism and stroke.

Stage 1: Sepsis Onset

Sepsis onset can be hard to catch at first, but catching it early on is crucial. Patients frequently suffer familiar symptoms including fever and shortness of breath in the initial stages of sepsis. Moreover, doctors will check the patient’s blood pressure. Sepsis might have started if it fell below 100 millimeters of mercury. A nursing home’s medical staff should be well-equipped to catch signs of sepsis onset in a timely fashion. 

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Stage 2: Severe Sepsis

Once an elderly patient begins experiencing severe sepsis, the infection can become painful, and even life-threatening. Patients may have new symptoms when sepsis worsens as a result of dysfunctional organs. Sepsis is a serious condition that can cause cardiac issues, darkened skin, and a lack of urination. Moreover, patients may go unconscious, which puts them at further risk of debilitating and even deadly health complications. 

Stage 3: Septic Shock

If a nursing home is doing its job, a patient should never enter into septic shock. The body’s blood pressure falls so low during septic shock that the major organs begin to shut down. During septic shock, whatever early signs the patient had displayed are still present. Septic shock can occasionally even cause gangrene to develop, as well as other major medical complications. 

Why is Sepsis Common in Nursing Homes?

Infections that the body is unable to fight against are what lead to sepsis. Regrettably, patients of nursing homes frequently deal with infections. Infections can spread fast in assisted living facilities because there are many residents living in close quarters. Another risk factor for sepsis in nursing homes is bedsores. Deep, open wounds are created by bedsores and ulcers when the blood supply to the skin is interrupted. Those who have severe bedsores may get sepsis as a result of their infection. The following infections have been frequently cited as common pre-cursors to sepsis by the CDC: UTIs, STIs, Flu, Staph, COVID-19, Streptococcus, and E. Coli. 

Knowing that widespread sepsis is a red flag is important for all people with elderly loved ones in nursing homes. Sepsis may be a symptom of abuse or neglect in a nursing home if someone close to you got it. Employees have a responsibility to identify and treat sepsis and the factors that may cause it. If they don’t, they aren’t upholding the fundamental standards of care that should apply to all nursing facilities. In this case, you will want to contact a qualified nursing home abuse attorney immediately

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Sepsis, Nursing Homes, and Legal Options

Knowing what your legal options are is crucial if you find yourself dealing with sepsis as an elderly person, or if your elderly loved one is suffering from sepsis. If you or an elderly loved one who resided in a nursing home has been diagnosed with sepsis. discuss a prospective case with a nursing home abuse attorney. A lawyer can look into the patient’s surroundings for any indications of carelessness, such as nursing home abuse, neglect, harmful conditions, or medical malpractice. Your attorney can assist you in bringing a case against the nursing home if there is proof that the facility or one of its staff failed to provide the resident with the necessary level of care, and that this failure led to the emergence of an infection or sepsis. Being vigilant and proactive about bringing the legal case is crucial to your chances of success, however, so don’t wait up!