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Duffield, Lovejoy, Stemple & Boggs, Attorneys at Law

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Nursing home sepsis should never happen

As your loved one's health declined, you made the painful decision to find a nursing facility where the staff could closely monitor and tend to the needs of this special person in your life. This was an act of trust, and you expected that your loved one would receive quality care, especially if he or she was bedridden or limited in the ability to care for his or her own needs.

The tragic fact is that thousands of nursing home residents in West Virginia and other states end up hospitalized after infections turn septic. Because of the already fragile health of these patients, many do not survive the septic infections, even after aggressive treatment. Is your loved one at risk of spending his or her the last days of life suffering because of a negligent nursing home staff?

How do infections start?

Infections may develop when nursing home staff fail to take proper hygienic measures when inserting or removing catheters or feeding tubes, or when these devices remain too long inside a resident. Pressure sores, another common source of infection, are entirely preventable. They occur when your loved one remains in one position for too long, placing pressure on one area of the body.

A dedicated nursing staff will take the time to turn bedridden patients at least every two hours to prevent these sores from developing. Left untreated, pressure sores can leave your loved one with an agonizing infection that can quickly develop into deadly sepsis. Late-stage bedsore infections are on the list of "never events," meaning they are situations that should never happen because basic precautions can easily prevent them.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis occurs when the body responds aggressively to an infection by sending its own chemicals into the bloodstream. This overproduction of chemicals quickly inflames and damages the tissues and organs, causing them to shut down. Because of your loved one's fragile condition, this rapid deterioration can occur in a matter of hours, often before an unobservant nursing staff even recognizes the symptoms.

A study in one state showed that, when nursing homes transferred residents to hospitals with sepsis symptoms, one in every five of those residents died. Nevertheless, nursing homes continue to fail their residents, and your loved one may be among them. While financial compensation will not turn back the clock to the time before your loved one's tragic infection, taking legal action against a negligent nursing home may send a message that will spare others from this needless suffering.

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