Sepsis Resulting from Pressure Ulcers a Widespread and Deadly Problem in Nursing Homes

Sepsis, a deadly bloodstream infection, is a common and largely unreported consequence of pressure inuries/ulcers. According to a recent article by The Chicago Tribune, sepsis was the most common reason that elderly residents are transferred from their nursing home to hospitals. Despite the massive financial and human implications, the newspaper states the problem is largely unreported because lawsuits against nursing homes are frequently settled out-of-court and include confidentiality clauses.

While the number of pressure ulcers leading to sepsis infections is not measured by federal regulators, the number of patients sent from nursing homes to hospitals and then die of the infection is at least 25,000, according to The Chicago-Tribune. This preventable cause of death leads to thousands of lawsuits filed all over the country against nursing homes and hospitals that allow their loved ones to become infected. In addition to the massive human toll, sepsis infections are an expensive burden on the healthcare system. Medicare pays more than $2 billion annually for sepsis treatment.

Sepsis is a bloodstream infection that commonly infects bedridden patients. The larger and more developed the pressure ulcer, also known as a bed sore, the higher the risk that it will become infected. When an elderly person becomes infected, it can often be a death sentence. In Illinois, one in five nursing home residents sent to the hospital with sepsis passed away from the infection. Because late-stage pressure ulcers are entirely preventable by moving the bedridden person around every couple of hours, federal regulations require all nursing homes to adopt this procedure as standard practice.

In addition to pressure ulcers, sepsis can also result from catheterization and urinary tract infections, two other health problems that are preventable in many cases. Across the country, a full 72 percent of nursing homes received a health department citation for failing federal regulations on preventing these health problems. Speaking to the newspaper, Steven Simpson, a professor at the University of Kansas and sepsis expert, called the high rate of deadly sepsis infections “an enormous public health problem… People don’t go to a nursing home so they can get sepsis and die. That is what is happening.”

Our attorneys work to protect the rights of nursing home residents and hospital patients that develop preventable bedsores.  Contact us today to discuss your potential case.

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