Can I Hold a Nursing Home Liable for Sepsis?Can I Hold a Nursing Home Liable for Sepsis?

Can I Hold a Nursing Home Liable for Sepsis?

There are certain health conditions that can be prevented, and sepsis is one of them. Sepsis is a condition that starts as a simple infection and escalates into a life-threatening situation. Statistically, most cases of sepsis start before a patient goes to the hospital, and about 30% of people who die during hospitalization had sepsis. Because it’s life-threatening if it isn’t recognized and treated quickly, nursing homes and care facilities must have protocols for staff to recognize signs and symptoms of infection before the infection progresses to sepsis. But sometimes, protocols are not followed and sepsis develops. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has suffered from this condition, here’s information that can help you decide whether you should pursue a sepsis lawsuit.

First, what is sepsis?

Sepsis is an infection of the blood that occurs when your body tries, but fails, to fight an infection. As the infection progresses and enters the bloodstream, you can develop a life threatening condition called septic shock. Septic shock is the final stage of sepsis, and is accompanied by a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can result in organ damage and even failure. In many cases, septic shock is fatal – the mortality rate can be as high as 30% to 40%.

While the signs of sepsis can vary from person to person, symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate
  • Mental confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Reduced mobility

Any type of infection (bacterial, viral, or fungal) can lead to sepsis. For nursing home patients, the most common type of infections include:

  • Urinary tract
  • Lungs (pneumonia)
  • Catheter
  • Skin lesions or wounds (like bedsores)
  • Digestive system
  • Blood

Early diagnosis is critical to keeping this condition from becoming life threatening. When it’s caught early, patients receive a fairly straightforward treatment of antibiotics and intravenous fluids. People over the age of 65 and those already suffering from underlying conditions that weaken their immune systems are particularly vulnerable to sepsis.

See Also: “5 Things to Do Before Choosing a Nursing Home”

Is a nursing home liable when a resident gets sepsis?

Nursing homes are legally responsible for providing residents with the basic physical, mental, and emotional care they need. If your loved one was harmed or injured because their nursing home failed to provide this care, it can be grounds for a lawsuit.

A nursing home can be considered medically negligent in two main ways if your elderly loved one has medical complications from sepsis:

  1. Poor or substandard nursing home conditions. This includes a lack of timely and proper incontinent care for both urine and bowel movements, resulting in urinary tract infections that then leads to sepsis. A failure to keep pressure sores and other wounds clean can also lead to infection and sepsis.
  2. Late or incorrect diagnosis. If the nursing home staff missed clear signs of infection and failed to contact a doctor for treatment, it can be considered medical negligence if the late or incorrect diagnosis has severe health consequences like organ failure, blood clots, tissue damage, or death. Also, the risk of future infections increases once you’ve had severe sepsis, so nursing home residents may face health issues down the road from a late or wrong diagnosis.

If the nursing home did not provide a basic standard of care to begin with, or did not properly address or treat your elderly loved one’s infection, your family could have grounds for a medical negligence claim. Even delayed care can be considered negligence in a sepsis lawsuit because early treatment is so important when limiting the health complications caused by sepsis.

See Also: “The 2023 Oklahoma Guide to Nursing Home Abuse Cases”

How To File a Sepsis Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home

While you can file your own negligence claim against the nursing home or care facility, we strongly recommend you first speak to a lawyer who specializes in nursing home malpractice or sepsis lawsuits to determine the strength of your case. Gather all documentation or evidence you have: medical records and bills, nursing home reports, pictures and videos of the nursing home and resident’s room, etc.

Then, contact an attorney. This shouldn’t cost you a dime. Reputable firms will offer a free consultation, which gives you a chance to explain the situation and show the evidence to someone who handles these types of cases every day—and they’ll give you an honest assessment of whether you have a valid claim against the nursing home.

If you do have a strong case and decide to pursue a sepsis lawsuit, your attorney will lead you through each step in the process of filing a claim. At this point, you may also want to report the nursing home to the state authority.

Sepsis Malpractice Settlements

The goal of sepsis malpractice settlements is to help you recover any losses you suffered by holding the nursing home accountable for failing to provide proper care. Settlements can include economic, non-economic, or punitive damages.

Settlement amounts can vary widely, so there is no guarantee what you’ll receive if you win your suit. Important factors in a settlement or trial include how clear the symptoms of infection were,  how long the patient had to wait before being treated, if they were misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, and if they were given the right treatment, and the grief and loss of companionship of family members if the case involves death from sepsis. These variables, and the other specifics of your case, will determine the amount of your sepsis malpractice settlement.

That being said, the worse the malpractice and the more stakeholders involved in the situation, the higher the settlement averages. For example, if your case involves a death, it is much more likely you’ll receive a larger verdict because of the devastating effect of losing a family member due to poor medical care, and because you can pursue multiple separate actions against the nursing home, doctor, and hospital. If this is your situation, your attorney will advise you on the best path forward and how to take the appropriate actions.

Get Experienced Legal Support from GT Law

It can be hard to know what to do when someone you love has suffered from something as severe as sepsis. Was it avoidable? Did the nursing home or care facility do everything they could to avoid it? We can help you get those answers. GT Law has spent over 30 years handling nursing home abuse and medical malpractice cases. Our experience and knowledge can make all the difference in how your case is handled and the compensation you receive. Contact us today for a free evaluation.

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