The three stages of sepsis are: sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. Sepsis is a serious condition that is a body’s extreme response to infection. It can progress quickly from mild to life-threatening especially in elderly nursing home residents and can be a sign of nursing home neglect.
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Stages of Sepsis
Knowing the risk factors and the three stages of sepsis can help family members and caregivers recognize the signs early on and seek immediate medical attention.
Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is when the body has an exaggerated defense response to a noxious stressor, and when the suspected stressor is an infection, it’s known as sepsis. Signs of the first stage of sepsis can include fever, low blood pressure, an increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing.
The second stage is called severe sepsis. If the infection is not addressed in time, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause organ failure. Common warning signs of severe sepsis in the elderly include extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
The third stage of sepsis is called septic shock and is the most severe stage. This is a life-threatening medical emergency in which your loved one’s vital organs can suddenly stop functioning properly due to low blood pressure. At this point, they may experience septic shock symptoms from lack of blood flow such as a significant drop off in mental awareness, rapid heart rate, and difficulty breathing.
Get Help Immediately
If you think your loved one is suffering from sepsis or septic shock, it is essential that they get medical attention as soon as possible. The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers can also help if you suspect nursing home abuse or negligence.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis cases are bacterial infections, viral infections, or fungal infections that can occur disproportionately in the elderly. According to the CDC, Sepsis happens when an infection you already have triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. They most often start as respiratory infections as well as infections in the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, or skin.
1.7 million adults in the United States develop sepsis each year and of those, 350,000 die or are discharged to hospice care. Without immediate treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to organ failure, tissue damage, and death.
It is particularly concerning in nursing homes where it can be a life-threatening condition. Treatment should begin as soon as possible to help reduce the risk of complications and long-term damage.
Who Is at Risk for Sepsis?
Sepsis is more common in people over 65 years of age, those who have compromised immune systems, people with recent severe illness, and children younger than one year of age. Other high risk groups include patients with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, and cancer.
Is Sepsis Contagious?
No, sepsis is not contagious. Sepsis is an infection that occurs when bacteria, viruses, or fungi enter the bloodstream and cause a systemic inflammatory response. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though sepsis itself cannot be spread, the underlying infections may be transmissible to other people.
What Are the Sepsis Symptoms?
Sepsis symptoms vary depending on whether they are early symptoms or part of a post-sepsis syndrome and can include fever, confusion, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. Additional symptoms can include a high heart rate or weak pulse, disorientation, extreme pain or discomfort, fever, shivering, feeling very cold, and clammy skin.
How Can Sepsis Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent sepsis is through good hygiene and preventive care. This includes washing the hands regularly, avoiding contact with anyone who is sick, and getting vaccinations as recommended by your doctor. It is also important to keep any existing or chronic medical conditions under control through regular check-ups and treatments. Recognizing the signs of sepsis, early diagnosis, and medical intervention can help reduce the increased risk of complications and long-term damage.
What Are the Major Causes of Sepsis?
The major causes of sepsis are bacterial and viral infections, including pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, infections, and skin or wound infections. These can occur when bacteria enters the body through broken skin or an invasive medical procedure. Certain fungi can also lead to sepsis if they enter the bloodstream.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Sepsis?
Untreated sepsis can lead to serious medical conditions such as widespread tissue damage, organ failure, septic shock, and death. Long-term effects of sepsis include permanent damage to the infected tissue in the body’s organs, weakness and fatigue, difficulty with concentration and memory recall, and depression.
Why Are Nursing Home Residents Susceptible to Sepsis?
Nursing home residents are more susceptible to a severe sepsis diagnosis due to a weakened immune system, poor hygiene practices, and lack of access to medical care. Additionally, nursing homes often house multiple patients with various chronic diseases, which can increase the risk of viral infection, bacterial infection, or fungal infection.
Nursing Homes and Sepsis Prevention
Nursing homes should take steps to prevent and treat sepsis, by monitoring residents closely, ensuring proper hygiene practices, and providing prompt medical attention when needed. Additionally, employees should be trained in identifying the early signs of infection and implementing proper protocols for treating patients with infections. By taking these preventive measures, nursing homes can reduce the risk of sepsis among their residents.
What Should Nursing Home Visitors Do to Prevent Sepsis?
Nursing home visitors can help prevent the spread of infection by washing their hands before and after visiting, avoid visiting when one is ill even if it is “just a cold,” avoiding contact with anyone who is ill, and limiting physical contact with residents with a compromised immune system. It is also important to be aware of any changes in your loved one’s condition so that medical attention can be provided quickly if sepsis develops.
How Dangerous is Sepsis?
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), nursing home residents with severe sepsis have a significantly higher rate of intensive care unit admissions than patients with sepsis who do not live in nursing homes. The ICU admission rate was 40% vs. 21% with a mortality rate of 37% vs 15%.
What Should I Do If My Loved One Gets Sepsis in a Nursing Home?
If your loved one is suffering from sepsis in a nursing home, it is essential to seek immediate medical treatment to prevent their progressing to more severe stages of sepsis. It is also important to report any signs of neglect or abuse that you may observe.
Getting the proper sepsis treatment is key in order to prevent septic shock and to avoid long-term complications, so it is important to act quickly if you suspect sepsis in your loved one.
If your loved one does develop sepsis and you suspect nursing home negligence, The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers can help ensure that your loved one receives the justice they deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
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