Sepsis in Elderly Patients

When infection and inflammation spread through the body, often through the bloodstream, sepsis can occur. It is a result of severe infection entering the bloodstream, which leads to a chemical release in the body in an attempt to fight the infection. At that point, the whole body becomes inflamed. This can lead to damage to various parts of the body and even death. Elderly individuals are especially prone to sepsis because their bodies are already weak. Most older individuals already have a weakened immune system and their body cannot handle the infection or inflammation on its own. It is vital that sepsis is caught and treated as soon as possible to give the elderly patient the best chance of surviving the condition.

Signs of Sepsis

Anyone who has an elderly loved one as well as anyone who works in a nursing home must know the signs of sepsis so that it can be recognized as quickly as possible. There are three different levels of sepsis labeled as basic sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. It is best to begin treating sepsis in its earliest stages so that the elderly individual will be able to survive the issue. The symptoms of each stage of sepsis are as follows:

  • Stage One, Sepsis – The symptoms include a fever either above 101.3 degrees or a temperature below 95 degrees, a rapid heart rate that is over 90 beats per minute, and a rapid respiration rate of more than 20 breaths per minute.
  • Stage Two, Severe Sepsis – The symptoms include difficulty breathing, pain in the stomach and abdomen area, abnormalities to the heart pumping speed and rate, decrease in urine, and changes in the patient’s mental state.
  • Stage Three, Septic Shock – When sepsis goes unchecked, the patient will go into a state of shock. The most severe symptom is a severe drop in blood pressure. If this occurs in an elderly individual, then it can be extremely difficult for medical care workers to restore the patient’s blood pressure to normal.

As mentioned, it is vital that sepsis is caught in its earliest stages or the condition can be fatal.

What Causes Sepsis?

Sepsis is caused by infection and complications that come from it. Any infection can actually lead to sepsis, especially in an elderly individual. However, it is most common in certain types of infections, such as:

  • Kidney
  • Bloodstream
  • Abdominal

There are also risk factors associated with sepsis, including age and a compromised immune system. Patients who have certain types of preexisting injuries are also more prone to sepsis. The need and use of invasive devices including catheters and an intubation apparatus can increase the risk of sepsis in any patient.

Sepsis is a common problem in nursing homes. Elderly patients are already more susceptible and then the prevalence of bedsores and infection only complicate the problem. Nursing home staff must deal with infections very quickly to prevent this from happening.

However, if the nursing home fails to care for the issue and a resident has suffered from any level of sepsis, then it is important to speak with an experienced attorney. If negligence can be proven, then a lawsuit may ensue.

Sepsis can happen to anyone of any age, but it is certainly more common in elderly individuals who just do no have the health or immune system to fend off the infection and subsequent inflammation. Patients who are living in a nursing home have the basic right for medical care and that means nursing home staff must do everything possible to prevent sepsis and then handle infections quickly.

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