Understaffing at Kentucky nursing homes results in overworked staff with too little time to provide the care that residents need and for which the nursing homes are being paid. One ghastly consequence of this lack of care is sepsis.
What Is Sepsis?
Sepsis—also known as blood poisoning—is a potentially deadly complication of an infection. According to the Mayo Clinic definition, it occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection cause inflammation throughout the body, resulting in microscopic blood clots. The blood clots can prevent nutrients and oxygen from reaching organs, causing the organs to fail. If sepsis is not caught and treated early with antibiotics and lots of intravenous fluids, it can lead to septic shock, in which blood pressure drops and the person could die.
Sepsis is particularly dangerous for the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems—the majority of people living in nursing homes.
What Are the Symptoms of Sepsis?
The medical field recognizes three stages of sepsis:
- Sepsis. This first and mildest stage involves at least two of the following symptoms:
- a temperature of more than 101.3° F (38.5° C) or lower than 95° F (35° C);
- a heart rate faster than 90 beats per minute;
- a respiratory rate of more than 20 breaths per minute; or
- suspected or confirmed infection.
- Severe sepsis. If you have been diagnosed with sepsis and also have one or more of the following symptoms, you have severe sepsis:
- patches of mottled skin;
- significantly decreased urine output;
- an abrupt change in mental status;
- a decrease in blood platelet count;
- breathing problems; or
- heart function abnormality.
- Septic shock. Patients with septic shock display all of the symptoms of severe sepsis as well as very low blood pressure.
How Does Nursing Home Care Lead to Sepsis?
When nursing homes are understaffed, nurses’ time spent with residents suffers. Pressure ulcers, or bedsores, may go unnoticed and untreated. Diapers are not changed when needed, hygiene assistance is not given, and the door is open to infection.
The Nursing Home Complaint Center declares, “Because of nursing home short staffing, we believe needless sepsis infections, septic shock, or wrongful death in our nation’s nursing homes are at unacceptable levels.” The group is calling for states to get much more aggressive in monitoring nursing homes. One recommendation is that the states perform unannounced inspections, at night as well as during the day.
If someone you love died of sepsis in a Kentucky nursing home, contact Gray and White Law. Call us at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation with one of our Louisville nursing home neglect lawyers.