September is Sepsis Awareness Month. Sepsis is a blood infection that can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 250,000 Americans die each year from sepsis.
More alarming, sepsis is a highly preventable infection.
Sepsis is commonly caused by bacteria, as well as certain viruses. The elderly and the young are most susceptible to the blood infection. Other persons at risk for developing sepsis include those undergoing cancer treatments, those with severe burns or injuries, and those with other infections, such as pneumonia.
Signs of Sepsis
Common signs of sepsis are:
• Increased heart rate
• Dizziness and/or confusion
• Decreased urination
But knowing all this, there is a genuine concern that not enough is being done to prevent sepsis – in older patients especially.
Kaiser Health News recently published an online expose on the lack of sepsis prevention with elderly nursing home patients. According to the story, 6,000 Illinois nursing home residents contract sepsis each year. One in five dies from the infection.
The report cites inadequate staffing levels at nursing homes as one cause for sepsis in nursing homes. More people monitoring and aiding patients could better prevent nursing home falls or bed sores, for example, which can lead to sepsis.
An overwhelming majority of nursing homes don’t adequately work to patient infections, according to Kaiser. Since 2015, nearly three out of every four nursing homes have been cited for not following or even having in place an infection control program.
Dangerous Hospital Transfers due to Sepsis Infection
After developing sepsis, a nursing home resident typically goes to a hospital for treatment. This trip alone may be very harmful to the elderly patient. Acknowledging this, in 2013 the Centers for Medicare & Medical Services began working on reducing these avoidable hospital transfers, citing the additional toll in lives and money. However, Kaiser reports that between 2012 and 2016 there was no change in the transfers.
The “Surviving Sepsis Campaign,” organized by critical care medical professionals in 2002, developed guidelines for preventing and treating sepsis. Those guidelines include a recommendation that hospitals and other healthcare facilities develop programs designed to diagnosis sepsis sooner and better educate medical professionals on managing the life-threatening infection.
While one month is set aside to raise awareness for sepsis, preventing it should be an everyday, year-round focus for hospitals and nursing homes to avoid serious errors in care that can cause serious, even fatal harm to patients.
If you had a family member die while receiving medical care, a substandard level of care may have been the reason. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to determine what happened and pursue just compensation on your behalf.
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Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog September 10, 2018