Sepsis describes a bacterial infection of the blood which can become fatal without treatment. The elderly often present a high risk of developing sepsis due to having weak immune systems especially if they have also pre-existing medical conditions. Improper or neglectful nursing home care of residents with bedsores, surgical or slow healing wounds, or using intravenous lines or catheters can result in a septic infection.
Cause of Sepsis:
Sepsis is caused by bacterial infection which spreads from any vulnerable point of the body into the bloodstream. Some symptoms of sepsis include irregular body temperature and respiration, nausea, vomiting, seizures and body pains.
Bed Sores and Skin Ulcers
Bedridden or incapacitated residents are vulnerable to skin ulcers or bed sores. Some treatments include relieving pressure in affect areas, antibiotics, and cleaning and covering of wounds. Without treatment, these wounds can blister, break open, and become infected. The infection can eventually develop into sepsis indicates Elder Abuse Attorney Peck.
Surgical and Slow Healing Wounds:
Residents recovering from surgical or slow healing wounds may require antibiotics, regular cleaning and changing of bandages to help reduce the possibility of infection. Improper or neglectful attention, to these residents, can increase the potential for a bacterial infection which can spread from the wound to surrounding tissue and into the bloodstream causing sepsis.
Intravenous Lines (IV Lines):
Intravenous treatments carry a risk of infection due to direct contact into the bloodstream through the vein. It is an aseptic procedure which requires regular changing and cleaning of the insertion site. However, improper care can lead to bacterial infection from foreign objects within the line and contaminated equipment. Accumulation of moisture, around the insertion site, can also result in an infection which can grow into sepsis.
Treatment for sepsis includes aggressive intravenous antibiotics to kill the infection. A more severe case may require ventilation for respiratory failure, vasopressor treatment to stabilize blood pressure, painkillers, and medications to control blood sugar and immune response. Invasive surgical procedures may also be required to drain or remove the source of infection.
Nursing home attendants can help reduce risk of sepsis through regular bathing of incapacitated residents, proper attention and cleaning of surgical wounds and bed sores, and regular changing of IV lines.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.