New Mexico Nursing Home Infections and Sepsis Attorneys
Infections and Sepsis in Nursing Homes
Nursing home residents have a higher risk of infections and sepsis. Most residents are elderly, and many have chronic health conditions that can lower their resistance to infection. However, infections tend to occur more frequently and spread more rapidly in nursing homes. Malnutrition, failure to prevent or properly treat pressure sores, and lack of precautions to prevent infection often play a major role in the high incidence of infection leading to sepsis in long-term care facilities.
If your loved one has developed a serious infection or sepsis in a nursing home, call Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP at (903) 290-1774 as soon as possible. We offer a free consultation and handle our cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay us no fees until we win a recovery for you.
What Is Sepsis?
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that is caused by the body’s response to infection. Normally, with an infection, chemicals are released into the bloodstream to fight it. Sepsis occurs when the body’s response is out of balance and triggers changes that can cause damage to multiple organs. When sepsis progresses to shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, and the consequences are often fatal.
What Are the Potential Complications with Sepsis?
- Sepsis can become progressively more severe. As it worsens, blood flow to vital organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys, is impaired.
- Blood clots may form in the arms, legs, fingers, toes, and organs. This can lead to organ failure and tissue death (gangrene).
- Severe sepsis can increase your risk for future infections.
- It can also cause death. The mortality rate for septic shock is approximately 40 percent.
What Causes Sepsis in Nursing Homes?
As stated by the Sepsis Alliance (SA), residing in a nursing home carries an increased risk of infection, which can lead to sepsis. Sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, with bacterial infections being the most common cause. Common infections in nursing homes that can lead to sepsis include:
- Urinary tract infections
- MRSA (a staph infection that has become immune to many antibiotics)
- C. difficile (a bacteria spread by microscopic spores that causes inflammation of the colon)
- Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines from bacterial toxins or viral infection causing vomiting and diarrhea)
- Wound infections
- Infected pressure sores
Although any infection can lead to sepsis, the most likely types, according to the Mayo Clinic, are pneumonia, infections of the digestive system, infections of the urinary system, and bloodstream infections.
Nursing Home Negligence that Can Lead to Infections and Sepsis
Some infections are unavoidable, but many could be prevented if nursing homes provided the level of care their residents deserve.
- Malnutrition resulting from nursing home neglect can lower a resident’s resistance and lead to infections and sepsis. Understaffing is a major contributing factor to malnutrition in nursing homes.
- Nursing homes are required to take every possible precaution to prevent pressure sores (also known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers) under federal regulations. This includes regularly repositioning residents with limited mobility and promptly changing wet or soiled clothes and bedding. If a pressure sore is clinically unavoidable, nursing home staff must provide proper medical care to help prevent infection and sepsis from developing.
- Improper care with catheters can lead to urinary tract infections, which can lead to sepsis. Catheters, feedings tubes, breathing tubes, IVs, and other invasive devices are one of the main risk factors for sepsis and sepsis shock.
- Lack of infection control in nursing homes can lead to severe infections among residents. According to SA, nursing home staff should help prevent the spread infection by washing their hands when moving between residents, observing isolation protocols (gloves, gowns, and masks), cleaning rooms and objects per infection facility protocols, and isolating residents who show signs of illness.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis and Septic Shock?
To be diagnosed with sepsis, your elderly loved one must have an infection (confirmed or probable) and all of the following symptoms:
- Change in mental status
- Systolic pressure (upper number in blood pressure reading) equal to or less than 100 millimeters of mercury
- Respiratory rate equal to or higher than 22 breaths per minute
Sepsis can progress to septic shock – a potentially fatal condition that occurs when sepsis causes life-threateningly low blood pressure. To be diagnosed with septic shock, your loved one must have a probable or confirmed infection in addition to both of the following:
- Need for medication to maintain blood pressure equal to or greater than 65 millimeters of mercury; and
- High levels of lactic acid in the blood (serum lactate) after receiving the adequate fluid replacement. The excess lactic acid in the blood indicates that the cells are not using oxygen properly.
Why Choose Our Firm?
- We offer personalized, client-centered legal services, with a high level of knowledge and skill. Our practice is focused exclusively on personal injury matters, and we have an in-depth understanding of injury law in New Mexico.
- One of our attorneys worked for a nationwide plaintiff’s law firm for many years, representing injured clients from across the nation and trying cases in five different states.
Connect with Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP
Nursing homes have a duty to their residents to protect them from harm and provide them with care in all aspects of their lives, including necessities of daily living, such as food and water, and proper attention to all their medical needs. Many cases of infection leading to sepsis in nursing homes could be prevented if nursing home staff took the proper precautions and provided the appropriate care. If your elderly loved one has suffered infection or sepsis in a nursing home, contact Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP today. We are tough advocates for people in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and New Mexico injured by nursing home neglect and abuse.