Sepsis, also commonly known as "blood poisoning," is a real concern inside many of our nation's nursing homes, including those facilities found throughout New Mexico. The condition occurs most commonly in elderly patients who receive an infection by a specific bacteria that enters the body through an open wound, such as a bed sore, or by way of a catheter or IV line. And while there are several ways in which someone can acquire sepsis, most instances involving nursing homes are due to neglect or the failure to quickly detect and diagnose the condition.
Signs* to look for if you believe a loved one may be suffering from sepsis:
- fast, increased heartbeat
- mental confusion
- fever and/or sweating/chills
- discoloration of the skin
- decreased urine volume
- difficulty breathing/hyperventilation
- rashes on the skin
- unusually low blood pressure
* These signs can be symptoms of any number of other conditions, and anyone suffering from one or more of the above should be seen by a trained physician as soon as possible.
Most patients in nursing homes are unaware of the conditions most often associated with sepsis and unable to care for themselves to prevent such an infection. Because residents are forced to completely rely upon nursing staff and doctors to watch for physical symptoms and the potential dangers that can lead to blood poisoning infection, it's possible that negligence exists when such an infection occurs.
Some potential causes of sepsis in nursing homes of which you should be aware include:
- Dirty bed sheets and covers. It's important to make sure that all bed linens are being washed and changed regularly.
- Open sores and/or wounds. Bed sores, no matter their size, can cause breaks in the flesh that are susceptible to bacteria responsible for sepsis.
- Unchanged clothing.
- A nursing home that appears to be understaffed or staffed with nurses and doctors that are inattentive. (Many nursing homes are understaffed and undertrained, forcing staff to take shortcuts and/or make critical mistakes in their care for a patient.)
- The overall cleanliness of the facility. Any area that appears dirty or unattended represents a potential for bacteria can could cause infection.
When you suspect that your loved one is suffering from, or has the potential to acquire sepsis, it's critical that you notify the nursing home facility and ensure that the patient's doctor has been placed on notice of the potential dangers that exist. In instances where the patient has been diagnose with sepsis, it's possible that you may have a potential negligence claim against the nursing home.
If you wish to discuss your options with regard to a potential sepsis claim, our nursing home abuse attorneys can provide you and your family with a free evaluation and examination of your case by phone, at our offices in downtown Albuquerque, or in the comfort of your home.