Sepsis occurs when an infection reaches the blood stream. It can be caused by many different types of bacteria and can begin in most any organ of the body. Once the infection moves from the place it started to the blood stream, it travels to virtually all the organs and systems of the body. As the infection progresses, all body organs and systems begin to shut down. If it is not treated in time the end result is death.
According to a new joint study done by Vanderbilt and Brown Universities, patients 65 years and older have a higher risk of developing sepsis than younger patients. The study also points out that institutionalization in assisted living facilities (ALFs) and nursing homes as something else that increases a patient’s risk of sepsis. As a result, these facilities should take extra care to observe residents for signs and symptoms of sepsis and ensure that proper care is instituted when necessary. Unfortunately, the opposite can occur. Some facilities try to use this heightened risk as a get out of jail card for free. They claim that the heightened risk means there is nothing they can do.
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The truth is there are many things a facility can do to avoid sepsis. First and foremost, the facility can take steps to avoid resident exposure to the bacteria that cause infection. For example, one of the leading causes of infection and sepsis in ALFs and nursing homes are bed sores.
The Mayo Clinic defines bed sores as “injuries to the skin and underlying tissues that result from prolonged pressure on the skin.” Those who have difficulty moving, who are wheelchair bound, or who spend long periods of time in bed are most at risk for pressure ulcers, which can develop quickly and are difficult to treat. If a facility takes steps to avoid pressure sores, the end result is to reduce the number of patients that develop pressure sores.
To reduce the risk of developing pressure sores, ALF and nursing home patients who cannot move well should be repositioned every two hours. In addition, staff should consider using protective padding as well. Staff should also inspect each patient’s skin for irritation, ensure patients get proper nutrition, and keep residents clean and dry. Nursing home neglect occurs when ALFs and nursing homes do not provide the proper care or attention as described above and the patient develops pressure sores.
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As a Tampa nursing home abuse lawyer, I have seen pictures of horrific injuries caused by this type of nursing home neglect. If your loved one develops a pressure sore while in a nursing home, an attorney may be able to hold the facility accountable for the outcome.