Nursing Home Negligence, Bed Sores, and Sepsis: What South Carolina Families Need to Know In Their Search for Justice

South Carolina nursing home neglect lawyers are all too familiar with the term “sepsis.” We know its meaning, are familiar with its causes, and understand the consequences it can produce. However, many families hear the word “sepsis” for the first time after a loved one has developed bed sores in long term care. I therefore want to provide families with a definition, explain the causes, and cite a few things that nursing homes in Columbia, and throughout the state, can do to prevent patients from developing this condition.

The medical community defines sepsis as a complication that occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation. In simple terms, sepsis means “blood poisoning.” So how does it happen? In some instances, sepsis occurs due to pneumonia. However, in other cases, sepsis arises due to repeated acts of negligence on the part of a nursing home, which in turn lead to bed sores and infection. Sepsis is marked by fever and increased heart rate. When undiagnosed or mistreated it can progress to “septic shock,” which results in altered consciousness, trouble breathing, and low blood pressure.

Once sepsis has been identified, it should be treated aggressively. Patients are often transferred to a hospital, where they receive a regimen of antibiotics. Some patients will also be given blood pressure medication and insulin. If the patient is in septic shock, life saving measures including surgery, IVs, and ventilation may be necessary.

South Carolina's elder care centers must take certain measures to reduce the likelihood of sepsis. First, patients’ rooms should always be properly cleaned and sterilized. Bacteria and infection has less chance to develop in a sanitized environment. Second, all invasive devices – including IV needles, ventilators, and catheters – must be 100% sterile before use. There is no reason for “line sepsis” to occur due to a dirty instrument. Third, patients who spend most of their day in bed ought to be constantly monitored to ensure they are not developing pressure ulcers. Skin breakdown greatly heightens the chance of infection.

South Carolina nursing homes have a duty to monitor and care for our elders. Part of that duty is to provide a clean, safe environment. When that duty is violated, the consequences can be severe. There is no excuse for negligence when it comes to the care of seniors. Sepsis may never be eradicated, but nursing homes must fulfill their responsibilities and eliminate needless dangers - including bed sores.

If you have any more questions about sepsis, and would like to speak with a Columbia, SC nursing home attorney, I am here to help. Call me today for a free consultation at 803-790-2800.

Kenneth Berger
Columbia South Carolina attorney dedicated to securing justice by helping the truly injured