Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection. What are the 3 stages of sepsis? The three stages of sepsis are: sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock.
When your immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection, sepsis may develop as a result. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 1.5 million cases of sepsis every year, and more than a quarter of a million Americans die annually from this type of infection (Sepsis, 2020).
Stage 1 Sepsis
If you believe your loved one is suffering from sepsis, you must act quickly. What are the red flags for sepsis? Here are the symptoms, according to Healthline (2018):
- A fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit or a temperature below 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit
- Rapid breathing (more than 20 breaths per minute)
- Rapid heart rate (more than 90 beats per minute)
- Confirmed infection
The patient must have two of these symptoms before a diagnosis of sepsis is made. The earlier they receive treatment, the better the chances for survival.
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Stage 2: Severe Sepsis
Severe sepsis happens when organ failure occurs. The patient must have one or more of these signs to be diagnosed with severe sepsis:
- Decreased urination
- Change in mental status
- Low platelet (blood clotting cells) count
- Patches of discolored skin
- Breathing problems
- Irregular heartbeat or abnormal heart functions
- Extreme weakness
Any infection can trigger sepsis. Infections of the kidney, abdominal area, or bloodstream, as well as pneumonia, can put someone at a greater risk of developing this serious condition.
Stage 3: Septic Shock
Symptoms of septic shock are the same as severe sepsis, including a dangerous drop in blood pressure. About half of the patients who develop septic shock will die from it, according to the Mayo Clinic (2021).
There are other complications that can develop from severe sepsis or septic shock. Small blood clots can form throughout the body, blocking blood flow and oxygen to vital organs. This can raise the risk of organ failure and tissue death or gangrene.
Sepsis and Seniors
Our immune systems become weaker as we age, and that puts seniors at a greater risk for the stages of sepsis. Elderly people are more likely to have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or cancer, that can have a damaging effect on their immune response system.
The most common types of infections to cause sepsis in seniors are respiratory, such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection. Other infections are triggered by compromised skin due to pressure sores (bed sores) or skin tearing.
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How Does Sepsis Progress?
Sepsis can be a fast killer that progresses rapidly. In addition to this, it can take the victims who do survive as long as 18 months to recover. This is why it is essential that caregivers to the elderly not miss or ignore the signs of sepsis. When it comes to seniors who may already be suffering from health conditions, every minute counts. You need to get treatment as soon as possible.
How Long Can You Have Sepsis Before It Kills You?
According to researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute of Healthcare Policy & Innovation (Prescott, 2016), many patients die in the months and years after sepsis, but it is not known if these patients are dying because of the sepsis itself or because of other health conditions they may have. In this study, 40% of patients who survived the first 30 days of a hospitalization died within the next two years.
Nursing Home Residents at Risk
Every year, 25,000 nursing home residents die after being transferred to the hospital suffering from sepsis, a Chicago Tribune/Kaiser Health News investigation revealed as published by the Advisory Board (2018).
The investigation went on to report that the majority of nursing homes in the U.S. fail to prevent bedsores and other infections that lead to sepsis. In fact, 72% of nursing homes across the country have received citations for not actively engaging in an effective infection-control program, according to the Advisory Board’s report.
Is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect to Blame for Sepsis?
Sadly, there are times when sepsis is a warning sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. Nursing homes have a duty of care to elderly residents to make sure they are clean, well-cared for, and receive medical treatment as needed.
If you witness the following in your loved one’s nursing home, and they develop an infection that leads to sepsis, you may have a valid claim for a lawsuit against the negligent staff member or nursing home company:
- Poor cleaning and sanitization of restrooms, kitchen, and common areas
- Dirty bed linens that are not changed regularly
- Overworked or understaffed employees who do not provide an appropriate level of care to each resident
- Long wait times or downplaying of medical complaints when emergency care is necessary
- Failure to bathe residents regularly
If you observe nursing home abuse or neglect, document what you see and report it to your loved one’s case manager, adult protective services, or law enforcement.
How a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help Sepsis Victims
If you suspect your family member is suffering from the stages of sepsis due to the negligent actions of a nursing home staff member, you might be able to seek compensation for your loved one’s damages and losses with the help of a nursing home abuse lawyer. They should not have to suffer another day due to a nursing home’s negligence.
O’Connell, K. (2018, August 31). Sepsis: Symptoms, causes, treatment, risks & more.
People don’t go to a nursing home so they can get sepsis and die. (2018, September 07).
Prescott, H. (2016, May 23). Does sepsis keep killing months later?
Sepsis: Clinical information. Centers for Disease Control. (2020, December 07).
Sepsis. Mayo Clinic. (2021, January 19).