An Avoidable and Fatal Infection, Sepsis is Still a Problem in Nursing Homes

A deadly bloodstream infection, sepsis continues to plague nursing homes in New York and throughout the country. Despite strict federal standards meant to prevent infections and harm to patients, the number of sepsis infections originating in nursing homes continues to increase each year. In a study conducted by Definitive Healthcare, at least 25,000 senior citizens die from sepsis infections received at nursing homes across the country each year. Give the enormous and unnecessary loss of life, nursing home advocates and government regulators are pushing for stricter standards and greater accountability for nursing homes.

An article by Legal Reader recounts the sad and unfortunately common story of one nursing home resident who passed away from sepsis. According to the article, the elderly man’s daughter, Shana Dorsey, found a “purple wound” on her father only a few weeks before he passed away in 2014. Medical staff at the nursing home told Dorsey the wound was a pressure ulcer or bed sore and not serious. Unfortunately, the pressure ulcer was severe and eventually led to the sepsis infection that killed her father. Dorsey then joined the thousands of other families across the country by filing suit against the nursing home because their loved one died of a preventable sepsis infection.

In addition to pressure ulcers, sepsis infections also commonly result from senior citizens with urinary tract infections or UTIs and respiratory health problems such as the flu or pneumonia. While sepsis affects all age groups, elderly Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with the infection and to die from the infection. According to one study, 3 out of every 1,000 hospital patients become infected with sepsis across the country. For the elderly, that number is 26.2 for every 1,000 patients. The higher mortality rate among the elderly is attributed to several factors including the increased rate of hospitalization, decreased immunity, and other co-morbidities typically present in the elderly population.

The most tragic part of losing an elderly relative to sepsis is that the infection is often preventable. By adopting stricter hygiene standards and monitoring patients for bed sores or pressures more effectively, elder care advocates and government regulators say the rate of sepsis infections in nursing homes can sharply decrease. Given the massive and unnecessary loss of life across the country, these changes seem long overdue.

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