Sepsis in an Illinois Nursing Home: What You Can Do

3916Nursing homes, like many other medical settings, can be a breeding ground for germs. Patients are kept in close quarters and some rarely leave the home, creating an environment where germs can hop from one person to another with ease and with incredible speed. Add to that the fact that many patients have comorbities and some have weakened immune systems and it means that infections are extremely prevalent in nursing home facilities in Illinois and can be very challenging to treat.

The body’s natural response to an infection is to trigger its immune system into action, trusting that the disease fighting capabilities will do their jobs and help a patient get well. In some situations, though, the chemicals released into the bloodstream to treat the infection trigger an inflammatory response in the soft tissues, called sepsis, leading the body’s immune system to attack things other than an infection and potentially leading to multi system organ failure. If a full-body inflammatory response happens, sepsis may progress to a condition known as septic shock, a life-threatening situation that leads to a significant drop in blood pressure and can be fatal even with the best medical treatment.

Sepsis is commonly referred to as blood poisoning because the infection runs rampant through a body’s blood vessels and circulatory system. An initial diagnosis of sepsis requires that a patient possess a body temperature above 101 degrees Fahrenheit or below 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, have a heart rate higher than 90 beats per minute, and/or have a respiratory rate of greater than 20 breaths per minute while also having a suspected or confirmed infection. If there is an indication that at least one organ is failing, including but not limited to a significant decrease in urine output, difficulty breathing a decrease in platelet count, abnormal heart function, or abdominal pain, the condition will be considered severe sepsis. Finally, if one or more organs is failing, a patient experiences severely low blood pressure, and that blood pressure does not respond to fluid replacement, a patient will receive a diagnosis of septic shock.

Sepsis and related conditions are extremely common among elderly individuals in America, including those in the Chicago area who reside in nursing homes. Any type of infection can lead to sepsis if it is not treated appropriately, including pneumonia and a kidney infection, and can be incredibly challenging to eradicate.

If someone you love is experiencing sepsis or symptoms that could indicate sepsis, it is crucial that your loved one receive medical treatment immediately. Often, this may mean transporting a patient from a nursing home to a hospital or an intensive care unit as a hospital so that the infection can be addressed in an aggressive manner, increasing the odds of a full recovery. Nursing homes and their staff members should recognize the symptoms of sepsis and should act with haste if sepsis is expected, arranging for the care that is needed by the patient and doing everything possible to help that patient get well. If that is not the case for someone you love, make sure you arrange for any needed medical treatment because even a slight delay in care related to sepsis or septic shock can be a fatal error.

If your loved one suffered from sepsis while a resident in an Illinois nursing home, hospital, or other long-term care facility, you and/or your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation. Call the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 to learn what options may exist and whether you have a valid claim. We keep a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you and everything discussed during a consultation will be kept confidential.

Prior Blog Entry:

Playing a Role in a Nursing Home Patient’s Care, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, published March 1, 2016.