Suing a nursing home for negligently causing sepsis requires an experienced trial lawyer. Sepsis cases are different from other nursing home negligence cases. Unlike a fall or an assault, the evidence for negligence is not found through witness testimony or camera footage. Proof must be found in thousands of pages of medical charts and lab results. A Georgia nursing home sepsis lawyer understands how to find the needle in the haystack.
Additionally, just because “A” happens before “Z,” doesn’t mean “A” caused “Z.” Sepsis cases require expert analysis to show how the nursing home’s negligence lead to injury or death. Nursing homes often defend their cases by saying the resident was old and dying anyway. Experienced trial lawyers know how to counter these arguments with law and fact.
An experienced sepsis lawyer can evaluate whether you have a case against the nursing home. Feel free to give us a call. Our consultations are always free.
Sepsis is not an infection. According to the CDC, sepsis is the body’s reaction to an infection.
When the body develops an infection (bacterial, fungal, viral, etc), it defends itself by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream. Most of the time, the chemicals do their job and the body recovers. Sepsis occurs when the chemicals cause massive tissue inflammation. Tissue inflammation leads to blood flow impairment, which then causes life-threatening damage to organs.
Although the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, the medical community is still working to understand and define the condition.
Unfortunately, other terms are used incorrectly to describe sepsis. In medical records and death certificates, you’ll see the term bacteremia, septicemia, or blood poisoning. Both bacteremia and septicemia are often used to describe bacteria or infection in the blood. Again, sepsis is not an infection itself, but the massively inflammatory response to the infection. So, while bacteremia or septicemia may produce sepsis, both describe separate and unique medical conditions.
According to recent medical understanding, sepsis progresses in stages. It starts as a localized infection and ends in a system-wide, bodily response. Sepsis progresses as follows:
As you can guess, it is absolutely possible to have an infection but not develop sepsis. This happens all the time in nursing homes. However, once developed, it can quickly kill if not caught by staff. Finding evidence that the nursing home did not observe the progressing signs is what a sepsis lawyer does.
Since sepsis is not an infection, it is not “contracted.” A nursing home resident only becomes septic as a result of contracting an underlying infection.
Any type of infection may lead to sepsis. The most common infection source is bacterial, followed by viral and fungal. The infections can either be localized to a site (like a wound site) or region (UTI), or spread to the blood.
Here are the common sepsis-causing infections in nursing home residents:
Most often, nursing home residents develop sepsis after developing pneumonia, urinary tract infections, or pressure ulcers.
Unlike other nursing home abuse cases like physical assault or pressure ulcers, it is very difficult for the average person to determine whether there’s a potential lawsuit. That’s why if your loved one was hospitalized or passed away due to sepsis, you should reach out to a sepsis lawyer for a case evaluation.
All cases in Georgia for nursing home neglect require two fundamental components:
A nursing home lawsuit for sepsis requires proof of both negligence and causation in order to be successful. Typically, the only way to know is to conduct an analysis of the medical records, the nursing home’s history of citations for infection protocols, and witness interviews.
Here’s some examples of proof that we use in sepsis lawsuits:
Essentially, you will likely not know whether you have a case for sepsis against the nursing home without consulting with a lawyer and obtaining the medical records.
Nursing homes are obligated under Federal and state law to take steps to reduce sepsis.
The principal method of preventing sepsis or septic shock is to catch the symptoms early. Nursing home staff must be trained to identify residents that are at most risk of developing the condition. Then, taking appropriate action once diagnosis is made.
Elderly residents with existing or suspected infections, like UTIs, pneumonia, or pressure ulcers, are at greater risk. Staff should be aware of these residents and monitor them accordingly.
Nursing homes must take action if a resident with a proven or suspected infection (like a UTI or pressure ulcer) develops at least two of the following symptoms:
A resident with an infection (or suspected infection) and two of the above symptoms is septic.
Identifying sepsis early is critical. However, a septic resident is not out of the woods yet. Nursing homes should have protocols that get the resident help quickly. Sepsis protocols include:
Nursing home staff must be trained on the early detection of sepsis. Why? Sepsis can kill in as little as a few hours. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the difference between life and death.
Every minute counts. In fact, the “gold standard,” meaning the best practices for the nursing home, is to get appropriate antibiotics to a septic resident within one hour. Every hour of delay increases the chance of death by 8%.
Nursing homes staff are required by law to observe, document, and intervene when there are significant changes in a resident’s condition. Especially those residents that already have a documented infection, or are likely to develop an infection (i.e. have open wounds). This may include instances of the onset of sepsis.
Early signs of sepsis in nursing home residents:
The likelihood of the nursing home settling with a family that is not represented by a lawyer is slim to none, and slim just left town.
Even if you engage a nursing home in settlement discussions without a lawyer, understand that your family’s best interest is not on their mind. In fact, the chances of being taken advantage of increase dramatically.
A lawyer experienced in suing nursing homes for sepsis understand not just the law, but the underlying medical facts necessary to prove your case. Medical malpractice is not the same as car wrecks or slip and falls. There are more ways for the nursing home to avoid liability.
We definitely recommend retaining a lawyer as soon as possible. If your loved one has been hospitalized or passed away in a Georgia nursing home due to sepsis, feel free to give us a call. Our consultations are always free. We have experience suing Georgia nursing homes for injuries and wrongful death related to sepsis.
Sepsis is not contagious. However, the underlying infection that caused the sepsis (i.e., viral, fungal, or bacterial) may be contagious.
The particular organisms, bacteria, or viruses associated with sepsis have their own contagious periods. Some are more aggressive than others. As such, some infections may remain contagious through the stages of sepsis. Therefore, nursing home staff must implement policies and procedures that reduce the spread of pathogens in the facility.
Nursing home infection control policies include the following:
Yes. Symptoms of sepsis and septic shock range from extreme discomfort to excruciating pain. In fact, the pain can be so intense that morphine may be prescribed. Even after a nursing home resident survives sepsis, there is an increased chance of chronic pain.
Sepsis is more dangerous to the elderly than any other population. Although the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, sepsis kills more seniors than any other group, including children.
As detailed below, sepsis is more deadly to seniors because (a) that population is more likely to contract infection and (b) often have compromised health conditions that would make fighting sepsis more difficult.
In Georgia, sepsis is the 9th leading cause of death with 1565 in 2017. This puts Georgia 8th in the nation on the number of deaths.
Sepsis may be a sign of nursing home neglect. Neglect means did the nursing home do something (or not do something) required by law or ordinary practices?
Most often, neglect cases against nursing homes due to sepsis involve one or both of the following wrongful acts:
Negligently Causing Underlying Infection: Federal and State law require that nursing homes implement infection prevention policies and procedures:
The facility must establish and maintain an infection prevention and control program designed to provide a safe, sanitary, and comfortable environment and to help prevent the development and transmission of communicable diseases and infections.
(a) Infection prevention and control program. The facility must establish an infection prevention and control program (IPCP) that must include, at a minimum, the following elements:
(1) A system for preventing, identifying, reporting, investigating, and controlling infections and communicable diseases for all residents, staff, volunteers, visitors, and other individuals providing services under a contractual arrangement based upon the facility assessment conducted according to § 483.70(e) and following accepted national standards;
(2) Written standards, policies, and procedures for the program, which must include Standard and transmission-based precautions to be followed to prevent spread of infections.
Failing to Undertake Timely Sepsis Interventions. Nearly 80% of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. Nursing homes may be held liable if staff disregards the obvious signs of sepsis or negligently delays treatment.
In our experience, sepsis in nursing home residents most often occurs from urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and pressure ulcers. In fact, a recent CDC evaluation found more than 90% of adults who developed sepsis through these conditions.
Health factors that place nursing home residents at risk of sepsis include:
If your loved one was severely injured or passed away from sepsis in a Georgia nursing home, feel free to reach out to one of our lawyers for a free case evaluation. Here are some lawsuit facts when suing a nursing home:
Defendants in a sepsis lawsuit may include the nursing home, its corporate office, its management company, individual owners, and specific members of staff. Each case is different and require analysis of the liability of each person or entity.
Clearly, many nursing home residents are at greater risk of developing sepsis due to their age and weakened immune systems. When nursing homes neglect their duty by providing inadequate care, using medical equipment improperly, or failing to guard against infection and the spread of disease, residents often suffer. This may happen when caregivers fail to wash their hands frequently enough or allow a resident with a compromised immune system into contact with another resident who has a contagious disease or infection. It may also happen when caregivers neglect standard infection control practices in dealing with catheters, feeding tubes, or IVs.
To prevent sepsis, nursing homes should treat infection promptly, watch for warning signs, and limit their use of catheters and similar devices. Nursing home regulations for Georgia specify that a nursing home should never use a urinary catheter unless a resident’s condition absolutely requires it. In this case, nursing homes must use catheters in such a way as to minimize infection, which means caregivers should keep the catheter clean, carefully manage fluid flow, and regularly reassess the resident to check for signs of infection.
Nursing homes can also minimize the spread of germs by training caregivers to use gloves and wash their hands frequently, especially when treating infected residents. Nursing homes should isolate residents who have contagious diseases. In addition, nursing home staff should promptly treat injuries and pressure ulcers which have the potential to become infected.
Because a nursing home has a legal duty of care towards its residents, by Georgia law, a nursing home can be held responsible for sepsis if the nursing home failed to use reasonable care to prevent sepsis. Sepsis is potentially life-threatening, is a common problem among elderly adults, and is often preventable, so nursing homes have little excuse for failing to watch for sepsis and treat it quickly when it arises.
If a nursing home is held responsible for sepsis, then that facility may be legally required to pay damages to the injured party (the resident who suffered from sepsis). Damages include money for medical expenses related to the infection, and money for any pain and suffering the resident experienced as a result of the nursing home’s neglect.
If your loved one acquired sepsis in their assisted living facility, please feel free to call and speak to a Georgia nursing home sepsis lawyer today.