Every case of sepsis is unique, and complications can be fatal in a number of different ways. Complications from sepsis can kill you in anywhere from a few hours to a few days. In addition, once you survive sepsis, you are at risk for complications later. According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences fact sheet on sepsis, “people who have experienced sepsis have a higher risk of various medical conditions and death, even several years after the episode.”
The Society of Critical Care Medicine concludes that sepsis is “common, costly to treat, and presages significant mortality for Medicare beneficiaries.” Although anyone can develop sepsis, people who are immunocompromised, younger than one year, or over 65 are most vulnerable. The following is a quick guide to understanding sepsis and how long sepsis can take to kill you.
Sepsis Can Be Fatal
Sepsis is a common medical issue that can spiral into something much more serious. For sepsis to occur, there must be an underlying infection that escalates to a more severe level, triggering multiple organ systems. While sepsis can be treated if caught in a timely manner, it is not always addressed before it causes issues. Additionally, it can create long-term complications or a higher risk of problems later.
Immediate Complications of Sepsis
When sepsis happens, there are some clear and time-sensitive issues that may arise. For a sepsis diagnosis, the patient will have a “probable or confirmed” infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treating sepsis, of course, means treating the symptoms of an exacerbated infection. While each case of sepsis is unique, patients may exhibit any of the following common symptoms:\
- A shift in mental status.
- A systolic blood pressure reading “less than or equal to 100mm Hg.”
- Respiratory rate “higher than or equal to” 22 breaths per minute.
When sepsis goes unnoticed or untreated, it can lead to more serious problems, like septic shock. The Mayo Clinic explains that sepsis does not take long to kill you: “Septic shock is more likely to cause death than sepsis is. … the average mortality rate for septic shock is about 40 percent.”
Long-Term Complications of Sepsis
Complications from sepsis will not necessarily happen when it is first diagnosed. As a result of more severe cases of sepsis, some patients will experience long-term side effects ranging from mild to debilitating. Here is a non-exhaustive list of complications one might endure after surviving a bad case of sepsis:
- Insomnia, difficulty getting to or staying asleep.
- Disabling muscle and joint pain.
- Decreased mental (cognitive) function.
- Organ dysfunction (e.g., kidney failure or respiratory problems).
- Limb amputation.
There are more possible outcomes for someone who suffers from sepsis, mild or severe, which is why it could be helpful to talk to a lawyer who has dealt with sepsis cases before. Some of the people most commonly affected by sepsis include nursing home residents and people in long-term care facilities.
Nursing Homes and Sepsis
Nursing home patients are more likely to experience sepsis for two main reasons: People who are 65 or older are at higher risk of sepsis, and nursing home abuse or neglect can be contributing factors to sepsis.
People who work in nursing homes are often overworked and overloaded with much more than one typical working person can handle. Studies show that not only do nursing home staff members tend to do a lot of practical tasks that families are no longer able to do like cleaning, bathing, feeding, and socializing with residents, but they also are expected to take on a lot of emotional care. This can be as simple as keeping an upbeat, positive attitude for residents, or making sure residents get proper attention and social time.
Of course, this type of work becomes overwhelming when the patient-to-staff ratio becomes too high, which happens often in nursing homes. As a result, nursing home care work is considered a “high turnover, high burnout” field. When nursing home care staff becomes overwhelmed, health issues happen more frequently. Here are the types of necessary tasks that could fall off the radar of an overwhelmed nursing home staffer and how they could lead to severe sepsis infection:
- Insufficient Care for Chronic Conditions: People with underlying illnesses are more likely to acquire a sepsis infection and die from it.
- Improper Hygiene: Adults over 65 are more susceptible to infections than the rest of the population and can experience sepsis if hygiene is not prioritized.
- Overuse of Antibiotics: Someone who is frequently prescribed antibiotics may develop antibiotic resistance. This could make it difficult to treat new infections, especially when they are used as a cure-all for frequently sick patients.
Again, sepsis is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis, but there are some common contributing factors. Do not wait for the next severe case of sepsis to act; it is always better to begin building your case as soon as possible.
A Nursing Home Lawyer Can Help You
If your loved one in a nursing home recently suffered from sepsis, you may benefit from discussing your case with a lawyer. The sepsis may indicate neglect in the nursing home. The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you navigate nursing home abuse laws when you call (800) 842-6336.