What are the stages of sepsis? There are three levels of sepsis, and these include sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. This is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person’s body goes into overdrive in response to an infection. Nursing home patients may experience any of these stages of sepsis as a result of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Read more about the stages of sepsis in order. Understanding the phases of sepsis and how the timeline of the condition works will help you identify it in your loved one.
Stage One: Sepsis
When people sustain injuries, specific chemicals in a person’s immune system release into the bloodstream in order to fight an infection. During this stage of sepsis, these chemicals can cause severe inflammation if they increase rapidly, leading to an emergency and a life-threatening situation.
Each year, approximately 1.5 million people receive a diagnosis for sepsis, which kills more than 250,000 yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stage Two: Severe Sepsis
The second stage of the three states of sepsis, severe sepsis, occurs if the original sepsis remains untreated or remains unresponsive to treatments. Severe sepsis will occur when the sepsis is affecting the function of an organ.
One or more of the following symptoms must present itself in order to confirm a severe sepsis diagnosis:
- Decreased urination
- Changes in mental ability
- Patches of discolored skin
- Low platelet (blood-clotting cells) count
- Difficulty breathing
- Abnormal heart functions
- Chills due to low body temperature
- Extreme weakness.
- Bluish discoloration of the lips, fingers, or toes.
Without medical attention, severe sepsis could lead to septic shock. Keep reading to learn more about sepsis shock. This is a deadly condition, so being able to recognize it is crucial. If you recognize any of these signs in your loved one, it’s time to call a nursing home injury attorney.
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Stage Three: Septic Shock
What are the final stages of sepsis? You are at the end when you’ve reached stage 3 sepsis. Symptoms of septic shock are similar to those of severe sepsis, but they also include a significant drop in blood pressure. This drop in blood pressure can lead to heart failure, stroke, failure of other organs, respiratory failure, and even death.
In their report from the January 2014 edition of the journal, Virulence, researchers believe that the inflammation resulting from sepsis in the body actually causes tiny blood clots to form, which block oxygen and nutrients from reaching organs, causing decreased function or failure.
Causes of Sepsis and Septic Shock
Any infection in any person can act as the catalyst that begins sepsis. Any bacterial, fungal, or viral infection can cause sepsis, but this condition typically originates from lung infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, abdominal infections, digestive system infections, or reproductive system infections.
This septic stages timeline will give you an idea of how you can expect the condition to affect an infected individual’s body.
What Are the Beginning Stages of Sepsis?
During the beginning stages of sepsis, you will know something is not right. Even if you catch the condition early, the infection is already serious. An individual who has sepsis may be showing signs of weakness or confusion. They may feel faint, and their breathing and heart rate may increase. If these signs are present, it’s time to seek emergency care (Sepsis 101, 2020).
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What Are the 6 Signs of Sepsis?
Oftentimes, sepsis can occur after a medical procedure or any type of infection. Some of the signs you or a loved one may have sepsis include the following:
- A high fever above 101 degrees or a low temperature below 96.8 degrees
- A heart rate faster than 90 beats per minute
- A breathing rate faster than 20 breaths per minute
- Probable or confirmed infection
- Patches of discolored skin
- Low platelet count
When a patient has two or more of these symptoms, a diagnosis of sepsis usually occurs. Sepsis can worsen if not treated immediately.
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How Long Does Sepsis Take to Kill?
According to research from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, sepsis can keep killing months later and in some cases even years later (Prescott, 2016).
Patients who have pre-existing conditions are more likely to develop sepsis, and it is not known whether or not this is a contributing factor to the increased risk of death in the 30 days to two years after diagnosis.
Testing for Sepsis
Some diagnostic tests to confirm sepsis include testing for:
- Bacteria in the blood
- Excess waste products in the blood
- Blood clotting issues due to low platelet count
- Abnormal liver function
- Abnormal kidney function
- Decreased amounts of oxygen
- Electrolyte imbalances
If you believe your elderly loved one needs testing for sepsis to determine if they are in one of the three stages of sepsis, you can advocate for them by speaking to their doctor.
Treatments for Sepsis
Early treatment and discovery of sepsis lead to a greater likelihood of recovery. After a diagnosis of sepsis, the patient usually immediately receives admittance to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital. Some medications used to treat sepsis include intravenous antibiotics, vasopressor medications, insulin, and corticosteroids.
Doctors prescribe plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, hydrate organs, and increase blood pressure. A respirator may assist with breathing challenges. In some severe cases, patients may require surgery to remove any source of infection from a wound.
Risk Factors for Sepsis
Age accounts for one of the greatest risk factors for the three stages of sepsis: sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. With increased age comes a decrease in immune system functions, which can lead to sepsis.
Recovering from sepsis or septic shock also leaves the patient with a higher chance of adverse long-term outcomes, such as developing ongoing cognitive and functional impairments that may lead to death later.
Contacting a Nursing Home Lawyer
According to the World Health Organization, two main ways to prevent sepsis include the prevention and transmission of infections and the prevention of the evolution of infection into sepsis. Nursing homes have a responsibility to take these steps to protect their residents, but sometimes they fail due to poor training, negligent staff, or overworked employees.
Pintas & Mullins advise that infection is a sign of nursing home abuse you should look out for because it means bacteria has entered into your loved one’s IV line, catheter, or an open wound. It is the duty of a nursing home to keep its residents safe from infections like sepsis, and if they fail they may owe the injured patient and their loved ones compensation.
Prescott, H. (2016, May 23). Does Sepsis Keep Killing Months Later?
Sepsis 101: Symptoms, Treatment, and More. (2020, October 06).
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