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Sepsis Often Warning Sign of Nursing Home Neglect

Each year, more than 1 million people nationwide suffer from sepsis, a potentially-fatal disease due to complications associated with infections. And among nursing home patients, sepsis (or septic shock) often occurs at an alarming rate. That's why a federal watchdog agency created to combat fraud and abuse (the Office of the Inspector General) issued a warning in 2013 about the high number of sepsis cases in nursing homes.

Three years later, sepsis remains a common problem in many nursing homes. Just recently, a family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home because a loved one died due to sepsis. What started as an ulcer developed into sepsis, which ultimately proved fatal. Such stories are sadly far too common. Each year, 1 out of 4 people who develop sepsis die from this medical condition.

But what is sepsis? And how do you know if a loved one has it? And what should you do once you know? These are just some of the questions we help families answer in Alabama. And that's why we want to help you understand sepsis and your rights.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a medical term used to describe medical complications associated with an infection. Specifically, sepsis occurs when chemicals fighting an infection in the bloodstream cause an inflammation, meaning part of the body becomes swollen. This inflammation can then cause various organs in a person's body to stop working.

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What is septic shock?

Septic shock is a form of sepsis in which a person's blood pressure rapidly drops. People who go into septic shock can die if they are not treated immediately in most cases.

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What causes sepsis?

Complications associated with infections is the most common cause of sepsis. That's why it's critical that patients in nursing homes or hospitals receive proper medical care in order to avoid developing a serious infection. Some of the most common infections which develop into sepsis include:

  • Infected bed sores
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney infections
  • Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix)

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What are common symptoms of sepsis?

Sepsis can sometimes be hard to diagnose. That's why it's critical that patients or loved ones demand medical treatment right away. Even so, there are warning signs that someone might have sepsis. These include:

  • High or low temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale skin
  • Tired, difficulty waking up

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Who suffers from sepsis?

Anyone can develop sepsis. But certain people are more vulnerable than others. These include:

  • Elderly people
  • Babies
  • Chronically ill people
  • People with weak immune systems

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Can sepsis be treated?

Yes, but patients must be aggressively treated immediately before serious health problems can develop. Hospitalization is often required to treat sepsis. Doctors often treat sepsis with powerful antibiotics. However, if physicians cannot treat the infection soon enough with antibiotics, surgery might be necessary to remove infected organs.

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"What should I do if a loved one has sepsis due to nursing home neglect?"

Seek medical help immediately. Insist that your parent, spouse or loved one is transported to a hospital right away for emergency medical treatment. A delay could prove fatal. If the nursing home refuses to cooperate, call 9-1-1 and tell them it's an emergency. Your loved one's life could be in danger.

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"How can a lawyer help me with my sepsis case?"

Nursing homes often deny any wrongdoing in cases involving sepsis. They often say they did everything they could to prevent sepsis from developing. Or they might simply say that your loved one was elderly and there was nothing they could do. We know the truth. We know that sepsis often develops due to neglect. As your attorney, we can gather the evidence you need to build a strong legal case against the nursing home. And if the nursing home refuses to cooperate, we're not afraid to take them to court. That's why you need us on your side in Alabama.

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