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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysMost nursing home residents live in a care facility because they have mental and physical health problems that significantly decrease their ability to care for themselves. Residents may need assistance with daily living tasks such as bathing, eating, and using the restroom, as well as help managing their medical conditions. Nursing home staff are expected to monitor residents’ health for signs of new or worsening medical conditions. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are dangerously understaffed and residents may not be as monitored as closely as they should be. One major concern for elderly and ill nursing home residents is a condition called sepsis.  

What Is Sepsis?

When a bacterium, virus, or other disease-causing pathogen enters an individual’s body, the body’s immune system immediately starts to attack the pathogen. The healthier a person’s immune system is, the more likely it is to fight off the pathogen before it can start spreading. However, when pathogens multiply faster than the immune system can fight them, an infection can develop. Some of the most common infections that nursing home residents suffer from include skin infections caused by wounds or bedsores, diabetic wound infections, vascular ulcers, respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.

When the immune system targets these infections, it releases certain chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals can sometimes cause tissues and organs to become severely inflamed. This condition is called sepsis. If sepsis is not treated properly and promptly, it can lead to death.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysDid you know that nearly two million people develop sepsis in the United States each year? While the condition can be treated successfully, more than 250,000 deaths are attributed to sepsis annually. That is more than the number of deaths caused by AIDS, prostate cancer, and breast cancer combined!

Unfortunately, nursing home patients are considered to be at increased risk for sepsis compared to the average person. To understand why this is true, you must first understand a little more about the condition.

Sepsis Is Not an Infection

The first thing you should know about sepsis is that it is not an infection, nor is it a bacterium, virus, parasite, or any other type of pathogen. Instead, it is a response to an infection. Put simply, a person can only develop sepsis if he or she has some type of infection.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysNursing homes and hospitals are the places designed to care for the frail, sick, and elderly. Unfortunately, these places are also often hotbeds of infection. Sepsis infection, a particularly dangerous and often deadly condition, plagues nursing homes across the United States. When a nursing home resident develops sepsis, it is critical that they receive prompt and competent medical treatment. Tragically, many nursing homes do not give residents the medical care and compassion they need and deserve. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, make sure to educate yourself about this deadly condition.

Causes and Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis, also called septicemia, is a life-threatening condition that arises from the body’s response to an infection. When a person experiences an infection, their body sometimes responds by releasing certain chemicals into their bloodstream to fight off the infection. These chemicals can cause inflammatory responses which do substantial damage to the infected person’s bodily tissues and vital organs. If sepsis is not treated in time, septic shock, a condition in which the infected person’s blood pressure drops to fatally low levels, can develop. Septic shock usually leads to death. Symptoms of sepsis include a change in mental status, extremely low blood pressure, high respiratory rate, and high levels of lactic acid in the blood.

Proposed Illinois Bill Would Punish Dangerously Understaffed Nursing Homes

An investigation conducted by Kaiser Health News and the Chicago Tribune found that approximately 6,000 nursing home residents hospitalized in Illinois each year have sepsis. On average, one out of every five residents hospitalized for a sepsis infection pass away. Sepsis often develops in individuals who are bedridden as well as those with urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and other infections.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneyWinter is the time of year when everyone should be frequently washing their hands and being extra careful to avoid illness. Unfortunately, nursing home residents do not always have the ability or resources to keep their bodies healthy and free of disease. The National Institute of Health estimates that 2 million infections occur in nursing homes every year. Although some of these infections are not preventable, others are a direct cause of negligent nursing home staff. Infections can rapidly worsen if they are not properly treated by a medical professional. If you or someone you love one has developed an illness after experiencing an infection in a nursing home, it is important to understand your available options.

Infections Common in Illinois Nursing Homes Residents

Nursing home residents are often elderly or have compromised immune systems due to illness. This is why it is critical that nursing home staff treat infections as soon as possible to prevent them from worsening. The most common nursing home infections include:

  • Urinary tract infections;
  • Respiratory tract infections;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Clostridium difficile infections (CDI);
  • Influenza;
  • Sepsis;
  • Gastrointestinal infections; and
  • Soft tissue and skin infections.

When Is the Nursing Home Liable for Infections?

Elderly, disabled, and sick individuals are already at an increased risk of infection. Not every resident in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living facility who gets an infection does so because of negligence. However, nursing home negligence and abuse can certainly cause an increased risk of infection and illness. Some infections can even be fatal.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysYou have probably heard about the condition known as sepsis. Sepsis refers to a particular type of complication that can arise from an infection in a person’s body. Unfortunately, the kinds of infections that are at risk for sepsis are all too common among patients in hospitals and nursing homes. When sepsis is not treated properly, it can cause a host of problems for the patient, including death. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to know as much as you can about this dangerous condition.

What Is Sepsis?

Also called septicemia, sepsis occurs when certain chemicals are released into the bloodstream to fight an infection and those chemicals cause inflammatory responses throughout a person’s body. The inflammation can then lead to a chain reaction of events that could cause damage to vital organs, eventually shutting them down. If sepsis continues without treatment, the patient’s blood pressure could drop dramatically—a condition known as septic shock. Septic shock can be quickly fatal.

Failure to Diagnose or Treat Sepsis

When a person is inpatient at a hospital or is a resident of a nursing home, he or she should be under appropriate supervision. This means that they are to be monitored regularly for any signs of an infection or sepsis. Those who have recently had surgery or who have open wounds are generally at the highest risk for infection. It is up to the nursing staff to test often for infections, especially among residents who are at risk.

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