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Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Sepsis?

Close up of an old woman's hands with sepsis in a Georgia nursing home

Nursing home negligence often contributes to patients developing sepsis

A new case review is bringing attention to how negligence in nursing homes contributes to sepsis-related fatalities.

The case, reviewed in Emergency Live, involves a Texas nursing home patient with a serious infection. She waited over 24 hours before an ambulance was called, but her infection turned fatal, and she passed away soon after arriving at the hospital.

The incident is representative of sepsis-related deaths in nursing homes in Georgia and across the U.S., and it highlights the need to hold negligent nursing homes accountable for their actions.

Negligence can lead to fatal sepsis in nursing home residents

Sepsis is the body's life-threatening response to infection. Adults ages 65-80 are at three times the risk of developing sepsis. Prior conditions most commonly associated with sepsis are urinary tract infection, pressure ulcer (bed sores) infection, pneumonia, and influenza (the flu).

In the fatal case of the Texas nursing home patient, the woman had a urinary tract infection and was discovered to have very little urine output in a drainage bag attached to her Foley (urinary) catheter.

Under federal law, this change in condition should have triggered a "physician notification." However, not only was a physician not informed, the catheter allegedly wasn't replaced until 4 hours later. At that time, a large amount of urine filled the bag.

About 6 hours after the catheter change, the patient had elevated blood pressure and felt "clammy." Lab studies were drawn and antibiotics were ordered, but the patient should have been immediately transported to the hospital.

About 14 hours later - and more than 24 hours after the poorly placed catheter was first discovered - the woman was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Ambulance records say there was blood in the catheter bag and vomit in her airway.

The woman died shortly thereafter. The cause of death was listed as "sepsis and complications of a urinary tract infection."

Signs of sepsis in nursing home residents

About 1 million Americans are affected by sepsis every year. An estimated 258,000 of those who become septic die. For those who survive, the condition can leave them with permanent injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, amputation, or organ dysfunction.

Some of the signs and symptoms that someone is suffering from sepsis include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Changes in mental status
  • Change in urine output
  • Confusion
  • Weakness or abnormal appearance
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • A temperature of 101 or higher, or less than 96.8
  • Heart rate of 90 or above
  • Rapid respiratory rate

Sepsis is an unfortunately common and life-threatening complication suffered by many nursing home residents. If you suspect your loved one developed sepsis as a result of nursing home negligence, you should talk to an attorney about your legal rights and options.

We hold negligent nursing homes accountable

At The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC, we have years of experience helping Georgia families get the justice and financial compensation they deserve. Attorney George S. Johnson has a passion for helping nursing home abuse victims and would be honored to see how he can help you with your potential legal case.

If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect of a loved one, contact us today for a free case evaluation with an experienced nursing home negligence attorney. With an office in Decatur, our law firm proudly serves clients in Atlanta and throughout the state.

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