What is Septic Shock?
Septic shock is the final stage of sepsis: a life-threatening complication of an infection. It may start out as something like pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, but due to a lack of treatment or other conditions, such as a weak immune system or preexisting medical conditions, the infection may worsen and turn into sepsis, leading to organ damage. When sepsis advances to the critical stage, it becomes septic shock, which causes the blood pressure to drop significantly. Septic shock requires immediate treatment.
In addition to low blood pressure, symptoms of septic shock include pale, cool arms and legs, chills, disorientation, fatigue, fast breathing, shortness of breath, a fast heart rate, and a low body temperature.
How is Septic Shock caused by nursing home neglect or abuse?
Since septic shock is the last stage of sepsis, the condition is usually preventable. In general, it only occurs when an infection has gone untreated for a long enough period of time. Unfortunately, this sometimes happens in nursing homes when caregivers fail to recognize that a resident is sick or fail to administer the right kind of treatment for a resident’s condition. This may happen because caregivers lack the right kind of training, or because they are too busy tending other residents due to a staffing shortage. If caregivers fail to catch an infection in its early stages, the resident may develop sepsis or, at a later stage, septic shock.
What should a nursing home do to prevent Septic Shock?
To prevent septic shock, nursing homes should regularly assess residents’ conditions, provide individualized care and treatment, and train caregivers to recognize and treat sepsis before it gets out of hand. Federal regulations for Georgia nursing homes require caregivers to assess residents’ health upon their entrance to the nursing home and continue to reassess them at regular intervals. Through these assessments, caregivers should catch any infections or conditions that might put a nursing home resident at risk for sepsis and septic shock. Additionally, nursing homes should maintain enough staff to provide individualized care for each resident. In treating infections, nursing home caregivers should consult the resident’s doctor to develop a safe and effective plan for treatment.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for Septic Shock?
Sadly, septic shock is a common cause of fatality for elderly people living in nursing homes and hospitals. As a result, nursing homes should be aware of the risk of septic shock and take every precaution to prevent it. Furthermore, state nursing home regulations specify that a nursing home has a duty to care for residents’ physical health, among other things. This means that a nursing home may be held legally responsible for a resident developing septic shock. If a resident suffers from septic shock, the nursing home may be required to compensate that resident for pain and suffering and for any related expenses, such as hospital bills. If a resident dies of septic shock, then the nursing home may be required to compensate the deceased’s family.