Did your loved one develop sepsis in a nursing home?
The law firm that fights for nursing home neglect victims in Alabama
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening medical condition sometimes caused by nursing home neglect. Nursing home patients with untreated infections sometimes develop sepsis, which can cause:
- Severe inflammation throughout body
- Dangerous drop in blood pressure
- Organ failure
If you suspect your loved one developed sepsis due to nursing home neglect, contact Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C.. Our experienced Alabama attorneys can investigate your case and pursue justice and fair compensation.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a complication of the body’s response to infection. It occurs when chemicals fighting an infection in the bloodstream cause inflammation, meaning part of the body becomes swollen. This inflammation can then cause various organs in a person's body to stop working.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Because sepsis is a complication of infection, many of its symptoms are shared with infections more generally. In addition to a probable or confirmed infection, a person with sepsis may have:
- High or low temperature (above 101.3 Fahrenheit or below 95 Fahrenheit)
- Increased heart rate (above 90 beats per minute)
- Shortness of breath (above 20 breaths per minute)
- Low blood pressure
- Extreme pain or discomfort, especially in the location of the underlying infection
- Pale, clammy, or sweaty skin
The symptoms of severe sepsis may also include:
- Significantly decreased urine output
- Abrupt change in mood
- Decreased platelet count
- Abnormal heart function
What is septic shock?
Septic shock is a severe complication of sepsis that causes blood pressure to rapidly drop. This causes a chain reaction in which vital organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys, do not get enough oxygen. Septic shock can lead to respiratory failure, heart failure, stroke, or failure of other organs. This is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.
What causes sepsis in nursing homes?
Nearly any type of infection can cause sepsis if it goes untreated for long enough. Most commonly, infections that lead to sepsis begin in the lungs, urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract. In nursing homes, two of the most common underlying causes of sepsis are bedsores (pressure ulcers) and urinary tract infections. 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.
Who suffers from sepsis?
Anyone can develop sepsis, but certain people are more vulnerable than others. These include:
- Elderly people (65 and older)
- Newborns and infants (under one year)
- People with chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes, cancer, lung disease, or kidney disease)
- People with weak immune systems
- People who have previously survived sepsis or septic shock
Virtually all nursing home residents have at least one risk factor for sepsis, so nursing homes have a responsibility to be vigilant.
How is sepsis diagnosed?
Some of the warning signs of sepsis can be changes in vital signs: decrease in blood pressure, changes in heart rate or blood oxygen levels, and high or low body temperature can all result from sepsis. Certain blood tests may be needed to diagnose problems with the kidneys or liver, or to measure the number of white blood cells, which indicate the presence of infection. A body audit may be needed to look for pressure sores that have become septic. Imaging tests, such as MRIs, may be used to find the site of the underlying infection.
Can sepsis be treated?
Yes, but it must be treated aggressively before serious complications can develop. Sepsis is a medical emergency that usually requires hospitalization. Doctors use powerful antibiotics to kill the underlying infection, as well as intravenous fluids and, if necessary, vasopressors to increase blood pressure. Sepsis patients may also need corticosteroids, insulin, painkillers, sedatives, and drugs that modify the immune system response. If sepsis affects the lungs, the patient may need oxygen and respiratory care; if it affects the kidneys, the patient may need dialysis. Surgery might be necessary to remove abscesses, infected tissues, and gangrene.
Is sepsis nursing home neglect?
In a word, yes. Nursing homes can’t be expected to completely eliminate the risk of infection, but they need to catch and treat infections before they become septic. When sepsis develops in a nursing home patient, it’s almost always because the nursing home left the infection untreated for too long. This is an example of medical neglect. The underlying infection, too, may be a result of basic needs neglect: failure to bathe or change residents can lead to urinary tract infections, and failure to turn residents in bed can lead to pressure sores.
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.
What should I do if suspect a nursing home patient has sepsis?
We strongly advise families who suspect their loved one has developed sepsis in a nursing home to take the following steps:
- Notify the nursing home immediately – This is an important step. Otherwise, the nursing home could later deny that it was aware of your concerns.
- Demand an immediate medical examination of your loved one – Don’t wait to take this critical step. Your loved one’s life could be at risk. And if possible, have the examination conducted by an independent doctor or physician whom you trust.
- Contact Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C. right away – Our law firm can help you with all the other details involved in such complicated cases.
Can I sue a nursing home for sepsis or septic shock?
If the nursing home’s negligence caused your loved one to become septic, yes, you can take legal action against them under Alabama law. In order to win a lawsuit for sepsis or septic shock, we need to prove that the nursing home failed to meet standards of care and that their negligence led to your loved one’s illness. These are factually intensive cases that require in-depth investigation and hard evidence to win.
How can a lawyer help me with my sepsis case?
Nursing homes often deny any wrongdoing in cases involving sepsis. They may 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.
Details matter. And so does your case. Contact Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C.
You're not just a case to us. You're a real person with real problems, and we want to help! Call 866-583-1885 and schedule a free case evaluation. Our office is conveniently located in Birmingham, Alabama, and we proudly serve people throughout the state. You pay nothing unless we obtain a recovery in your nursing home abuse case. That's because we work on a contingency fee basis.
When you have Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C. on your side, you can take an aggressive approach right from the start. We meticulously investigate every sepsis case. We tirelessly search for evidence. Details matter. And so do you. Contact us. We build strong cases designed to win.