If you have a loved one age 65 or older, he or she is part of the population that makes up approximately 65% of the cases of sepsis. As you age, your chances of contracting an infection that could lead to sepsis increase due to the natural weakening of your immune system.
The danger of a compromised immune system
Because of a weakened immune system, your loved one could end up with an infection from circumstances that would not necessarily affect someone younger. It becomes more difficult for the body to fight off infections such as a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, an infected tooth or a bedsore — all of which are common infections in older people.
If your loved one resides in an assisted living center or nursing home, the staff and medical personnel should keep a closer eye on him or her and look for signs of an infection. For example, if an aging individual has a UTI, one of the first symptoms is unusual behavior, including confusion. As the infection gets worse, so does the confusion. This is because seniors often experience a change in mental status first. If staff members are not diligent, the situation could quickly turn into sepsis.
Watching for signs of sepsis
If you notice your loved one experiencing the following symptoms, it could indicate sepsis:
- Confusion, which is more common as people age
- A heart rate above 90 beats per minute
- A temperature below 95 degrees or above 101.3 degrees
- Breathing over 20 breaths per minute
If your loved one exhibits these signs, he or she needs medical care right away. Sepsis can advance quickly, so time is of the essence. The sooner treatment begins, the higher the odds of recovery. Of course, it would be preferable for your loved one to receive the appropriate medical attention as soon as an infection appears, but this requires the medical and other personnel at the nursing home or assisted living center to pay attention to your loved one’s health.
What could have been a simple treatment of antibiotics to clear up an infection could turn into a visit to the intensive care unit. As you can imagine, recovering from a life threatening condition such as sepsis is also harder as a person ages. If your loved one ends up in the hospital with sepsis or septic shock, the odds are that he or she may not have received the care he or she deserved.
What can you do about it?
Under these circumstances, it may quickly become clear that your loved one’s care is less than desirable. If the evidence suggests medical malpractice, it may be possible to pursue compensation for the injuries suffered by your loved one. It would probably be worth discussing the situation with an attorney experienced in these types of cases to determine the next course of action.