Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Sepsis In Kentucky?

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When we place an elderly loved one into a nursing home it’s typically because we know they require a high level of daily care for their health and safety. We expect them to receive the care, compassion, and respect for their dignity that they deserve. Despite the glossy brochures, many nursing homes do not deliver the consistent care they promise.

Nursing home neglect and abuse cases are sadly common in the United States. Overworked, understaffed caregivers, negligent hiring and training practices, and rapid employee turnover rates all contribute to the neglect of elderly nursing home residents. One of the most egregious forms of nursing home neglect occurs when a lack of adequate care causes a resident’s infection or illness to develop into deadly sepsis. One study reveals that out of nursing home patients transferred to hospitals each year who later died, 25,000 of them died of sepsis. But what is sepsis and how does neglect contribute to the often fatal condition in elderly patients?

What is Sepsis, and Why is it a Consistent Problem in Nursing Homes?

When the body fights a serious, ongoing infection, inflammation sometimes causes an overreaction by the body that triggers an attack on the disease. Unfortunately, this causes a chain reaction that also attacks healthy cells in the organ systems. Sometimes called “blood poisoning” this chain reaction causes organ shutdown and death if not promptly targeted and treated with powerful antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

In nursing homes, infections and viruses spread quickly among residents. When left unchecked, an illness or infected bed sores can cause deadly sepsis in the vulnerable elderly population. Elderly patients often have compromised immune systems, diabetes, chronic urinary tract infections, and bed sores, all of which contribute to the development of sepsis.

Nursing home caregivers have a duty of care toward elderly residents, including containing the spread of bacteria and viruses, promptly identifying and treating infections, and protecting residents against developing deadly sepsis from unchecked infections.

Signs of Sepsis in Ill or Elderly Residents

Sepsis develops as a result of the body’s reaction to an infection. In the elderly, sepsis begins in patients who are ill due to a viral or bacterial infection. When the condition becomes sepsis, the patient may develop the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Confusion
  • Lack of urination
  • Abdominal pain

In the advanced stage of sepsis, the patient exhibits abdominal pain, shock, and a drop in blood pressure. Organ damage, organ shutdown, and death follow.

Is Sepsis a Sign of Nursing Home Neglect?

Infections in the elderly are treatable and prompt treatment of infections prevents ill nursing home residents from developing sepsis. Even when nursing home staff miss the early signs of infection and fail to provide treatment, catching sepsis in its earliest stages and providing emergency treatment can prevent the condition from causing organ failure and death. If nursing home staff fail to promptly address signs of sepsis with intensive emergency care and the result is the death of the resident, they’ve committed an act of neglect. Negligence in nursing home staff leaves the facility liable for damages in a lawsuit.

Nursing Home Sepsis Liability

When nursing home staff commit negligence and the result is an elderly family member’s severe illness or death, the nursing home is liable for damages due to a breach of their duty of care. Elder-care facilities have a duty to provide adequate care to residents. If they breach this duty and it results in a patient’s life-threatening illness and death, the surviving family members may hold the facility liable in a nursing home neglect claim or wrongful death lawsuit. Contact the experienced nursing home abuse lawyers in Louisville from Gray & White, PLLC to get justice.

While a successful lawsuit against a negligent nursing home won’t restore health or bring a lost loved one back, it can provide an important voice for justice as well as financial compensation.