When it comes to sepsis, there are some common symptoms, but having sepsis does not guarantee an obvious display of any of them. Here are the 6 most common signs and symptoms of sepsis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- A fever or chills
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Elevated heart rate
- Skin that is sweaty or clammy
Of course, this is a non-exhaustive list of symptoms. With sepsis, early recognition, prevention, and intervention can be lifesaving. Just like most health situations for nursing home residents, recognizing a case of sepsis requires constant care and attention. These 6 signs of sepsis can range from subtle to severe.
Sepsis is the body’s reaction to an infection, but it is a dangerous condition because your body overreacts to the infection and causes many complications that can result in death if left untreated. For most patients, it begins outside of the hospital. According to a CDC study, a majority of sepsis patients had chronic health concerns that led to more frequent medical attention or made use of health care services.
When sepsis happens to nursing home residents, it can quickly become a case of life or death. In some cases, especially in more vulnerable populations, sepsis can lead to septic shock, which can be fatal.
How Sepsis Happens
According to the Mayo Clinic, sepsis typically happens in people who are immunocompromised or have preexisting infections. Adults over 65 are especially more vulnerable to infections, and likely to require 24/7 care, such as that in a nursing home.
Patients with skin, lung, gut, and urinary tract infections can be more vulnerable to sepsis than other patients, per CDC findings. Any nursing home resident with a history of infections or chronic disease needs constant monitoring for any of the 6 signs of sepsis. However, that is sometimes easier said than done.
Nursing Homes and Understaffing
Although the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 stipulates that nursing homes must be adequately staffed, the act does not indicate a particular number or patient-to-staff ratio. Consequently, organizations that run nursing homes are able to take advantage of this and understaffed facilities. This leads to a very high and often unmanageable patient-to-staff ratio.
In addition, working in a nursing home is not for the faint of heart. It can be high-risk, low-pay work. Nursing home work does not only require comprehensive training in specialized care for senior citizens, but an abundance of emotional labor. Emotional labor leads to emotional exhaustion, which can contribute to neglecting responsibilities, or even abusive behavior at work.
How Abuse and Neglect Contribute to Sepsis
Your loved one may be suffering abuse or neglect in his or her current care setting, even if it is unintentional. When a nursing home staff member becomes overwhelmed with individual tasks and keeping up with the needs for an influx of residents, the nursing home residents can suffer as a result.
With improper care, your loved one could suffer from any of the following factors that contribute to sepsis:
- Weakened Immune System: Without regard for a weakened immune system, your loved one is at a higher risk of developing complications from an infection.
- Lack of Hygiene and Health Monitoring: Hygiene and constant monitoring is important for at-risk people like nursing home residents. Missing one small symptom could lead to a seriously bad case of sepsis.
- Misdiagnosed Infections: When infections are misdiagnosed or completely missed, they do not receive proper treatment, which leads to more severe consequences.
- Antibiotic Immunity: When medical professionals frequently treat symptoms with antibiotics, it can lead to antibiotic resistance. This can cause more severe infections that are difficult or impossible to control.
Of course, there are more ways that mistreatment or a lack of constant monitoring could lead to serious health problems in our vulnerable populations. But if you notice any of the above conditions in your loved one’s nursing home, it could be a sign of increased vulnerability to sepsis or more serious consequences from infections.
Symptoms of Sepsis Can Indicate a Bigger Problem
Nursing home abuse and neglect is not always obvious, but there are some common factors and indications of it. If your loved one frequently suffers from infections, has ever had sepsis during his or her residency in a nursing home, or other chronic health issues, consider if anyone’s negligence is contributing to it. Remember that nursing home abuse and neglect are not always intentional; sometimes mismanagement of nursing home staff or residents can lead to fatal consequences.
If your loved one in a nursing home recently suffered sepsis, or is showing signs of infection, do not wait until the situation becomes deadly. You can work with a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer to help you navigate the situation with everyone’s best interests in mind.
Our Nursing Home Lawyers Can Help You
People living in a nursing home have a right to good, quality care, and your loved one is no exception. Be alert for any of the 6 signs of sepsis and understand what overlooked conditions in a nursing home can lead to an increased risk of sepsis.
Work with a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer who can help you understand your rights throughout the litigation process. You can call the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for more information at (800) 842-6336.