May 2010 Archives

According to Taber's Medical Dictionary, sepsis is defined as "the spread of an infection from its initial site to the bloodstream, initiating a systemic response that adversely affects blood flow to vital organs."  This condition can prove fatal and is a common cause of death in the elderly population including nursing home residents.

Sepsis can result from numerous conditions including bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers).  A pressure ulcer is a bed sore caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin that comes from lying in the same position too long and is associated with pain.    Nursing home patients experience pressure from their bed and/or chair to certain points on their skin preventing the blood from flowing into those points.  Because the blood is not allowed to flow into those points, the skin, deprived of nutrients and oxygen, can become injured and susceptible to infection. 

Nursing home residents may be at risk for bedsores as a result of their underlying health problems and/or immobility issues.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") published a paper in February of 2009 entitled "Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents: United States, 2004" concluding that "pressure ulcers are serious and common medical conditions in U.S. nursing homes, and remain an important public health problem." 

The standard of care applicable to nursing homes requires the nursing home staff to ensure that a resident entering the facility without pressure ulcers does not develop them unless the resident's clinical condition demonstrates that they were medically unavoidable.  The nursing home staff must also ensure that a resident having pressure ulcers receives necessary and proper wound care treatment and services to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new ulcers from developing.  The nursing home staff must relieve pressure by turning and repositioning the resident at least every two hours while in bed and every hour while in a Geri-chair or wheelchair, maintain adequate nutrition and hydration, and prevent contractures of the extremities.

Unfortunately, once a bed sore has progressed to stage 3 and stage 4, it is difficult to achieve healing and avoid painful and life-threatening complications.  These patients may develop osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) and sepsis (blood infection) ultimately resulting in death. 

Oftentimes, the death certificate will list sepsis as the primary cause of death and include osteomyelitis and/or decubitus ulcers as contributing death factors.  In these circumstances, it may be advisable to consult with an attorney if you have reason to believe that the bedsores developed at the nursing home and were not timely diagnosed and/or treated.

Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect attorneys at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), nursing home falls, dehydration/malnutrition, medication error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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