Anyone can be infected with sepsis, which is also known as septicemia or a blood infection. In fact, the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (“NIGMS”) states that over a million people are affected by sepsis each year. However, certain groups of people are more susceptible to this type of infection, including elderly individuals experiencing other health problems.
Bedsores that Lead to Sepsis
A bedsore occurs from lack of mobility, which is often an issue for nursing home patients. When these sores start to form, they can progress very quickly to advanced stages that can lead to other complications.
As a bedsore advances, it goes deeper into a patient’s body. This type of wound is a magnet for germs and other invasive pathogens that can find their way into the bloodstream and cause infection. According to the NIGMS bacteria is the most common cause of sepsis, but it can also be caused by fungi and viruses. When germs and bacteria enter an open bedsore, they can spread to surrounding tissues and eventually into the bloodstream of the patient, causing sepsis.
Common Symptoms of Sepsis
There are three stages of sepsis: sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock. Severe sepsis causes dysfunction with the body’s organs. A body that is infected with sepsis releases chemicals throughout the body to fight the spread of the infection. These chemicals cause to inflammation throughout the body which can cause blood clots to form in the organs leading to organ failure.
Septic shock includes all the symptoms of sepsis but also very low blood pressure that is difficult to stabilize. 50% of the people that go into septic shock die.
While there are many different indicators that a person may have sepsis, there are some common symptoms that present in many patients, including:
As you can see, these symptoms are also common to other illnesses so it can be difficult to distinguish sepsis from other less serious illnesses. These symptoms should be taken seriously when they appear in individuals more likely to develop sepsis, such as elderly nursing home patients that have developed bedsores.
Diagnosing and Treating Sepsis
Usually, a blood test needs to be performed to determine whether or not an individual has an unusual white blood cell count. It is important for patients that develop sepsis to receive prompt and appropriate care for this blood infection, as it can be fatal. Septic shock can cause permanent organ damage and death.
Due to the potentially severe consequences of sepsis, patients are often treated in a hospital’s intensive care unit. Treatment can be complex and extensive in order to control the infection and prevent severe long-term damage. While sepsis does not automatically implicate a nursing home, there may be cases where a nursing home is liable for sepsis especially when it comes from a bedsore that may not have been treated properly.
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