What is organ failure?
Organ failure means that one or more essential systems in the body – such as the heart, liver, or kidneys – are shutting down. Multiple organ failure involves two or more of these systems. Often, when one organ begins to fail, it affects the other organs. For example, heart failure can trigger kidney failure in a short amount of time, and liver failure often leads to multiple organ failure.
Organ failure often occurs because of sepsis or shock, when the patient experiences extremely low blood pressure or when bacteria enters the blood. It can also occur as a result of trauma, infection, bleeding, or other conditions. Organ failure is a life-threatening condition and requires emergency care, as multiple organ failure can quickly turn critical.
How is organ failure caused by nursing home neglect or abuse?
Kidney failure sometimes occurs because of dehydration, which can happen in nursing homes when staff and caregivers are neglectful. If a nursing home employs too few staff members, there may not be enough caregivers to attend to each resident’s individual needs, ensure they are provided with food and water, and watch for signs of dehydration.
Additionally, neglecting sanitation and failing to isolate infections in nursing homes may lead to residents developing infections which can turn into organ failure if not properly monitored. And if caregivers lack the proper training due to neglect on the part of the nursing home, then residents may not receive the specialized care they need to stave off organ failure, such as breathing tubes or emergency care.
What should a nursing home do to prevent organ failure?
To prevent organ failure, nursing homes should employ enough staff members to care for residents’ needs on an individual level, and should train caregivers to recognize and treat conditions like dehydration that could lead to organ failure. Caregivers should watch for signs like dark urine, urinary tract infections, dry skin, and weight loss, which could signal dehydration. Nursing home managers should supervise caregivers to make sure residents’ nutritional needs are being met on a daily basis.
Nursing homes should do all they can to prevent infection by keeping their facility clean and sanitary, and protecting residents with weakened immune systems from germs they might catch from visitors or other nursing home residents. If a resident shows signs of sepsis or shock, the nursing home should provide treatment immediately.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for organ failure?
If a nursing home resident developed organ failure through a nursing home’s neglect, then the nursing home may be held responsible. For example, if a resident became dehydrated because a nursing home failed to provide enough liquids, and the resident then developed kidney failure, the nursing home will probably be held responsible. Or if a resident clearly needed specialized care, such as a feeding tube, reminders to drink water, or different options for fluid intake, and caregivers failed to provide this care, then the nursing home may also be held responsible.
If this proves to be the case, then the nursing home will be responsible for any financial costs incurred by the organ failure – like visits to the emergency room or ICU. The nursing home may also be required to pay money in damages for any pain and suffering the resident experienced as a result of organ failure. And if organ failure resulted in death, the nursing home may be required to compensate the resident’s family for the loss of their loved one.