Sepsis, also known as septic shock, is the condition most commonly caused by urinary tract and respiratory tract infections, the two most common illnesses in nursing homes according to researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Sepsis is a serious infection in the bloodstream that can lead to organ failure. The third leading cause of sepsis and septic shock is bed sores. Any of these conditions can be prevented and managed in nursing homes and long-term care environments.
Nursing home residents fitted with catheters are prone to urinary tract infections when old catheters are not changed out and replaced with new ones in a timely fashion. Elderly residents, like small children, are also more susceptible to respiratory infections. Bed sores can manifest in bed-ridden residents and those who use wheelchairs. Negligence, a common form of nursing home abuse, can leave any of these conditions unaddressed, allowing them to fester and progress into sepsis or septic shock.
The Different Levels of Sepsis
Sepsis typically begins from failure to prevent or care for a small infection, the infection then spreads:
- Sepsis – Bloodstream infection, severe flu-like symptoms can result
- Septic Shock – Advancing sepsis that causes dangerously low blood pressure and cardio-pulmonary issues
- Severe Sepsis – Advanced infection causing organ dysfunction/failure and/or mental impairment
Stopping Sepsis in Nursing Homes
Family or friends should attempt to visit their loved one’s nursing home frequently. Watching for bed sores and talking to the resident can play an early role in detecting neglect and in preventing sepsis. Speak with staff about the home’s programs and procedures for addressing patients with catheters as well as policies for containing infection.
Address management with any concerns over neglect. If still unsatisfied, contact the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and speak to a nursing home abuse attorney.
FL Dept. of Elder Affairs – http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/doea/report_abuse.php