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Decubitus Ulcer Complications: Septic Shock

Septic Shock from a Bed SoreIn the United States, there are over 934,000 occurrences of septic shock each year. Sepsis is an advanced form of infection that is caused by bacteria or fungus and, if not treated quickly, has an extremely high rate of mortality. Elderly people are already at a much higher risk than any other age group and many patients develop sepsis from decubitus ulcers. If a patient is discovered to have a bedsore that has progressed into an advanced stage, sepsis treatment needs to begin promptly in order to give the patient the best chance of recovery.

What is a Decubitus Ulcer?

Commonly referred to as bedsores, decubitus ulcers develop due to lack of circulation. When left in the same position for long periods of time, the weight placed on a person’s joints can cut off the blood flow to the surrounding area. Over time, tissue begins to degrade at the cellular level due to a lack of oxygen and when the tissue dies, it creates an open wound that is extremely painful and highly inviting of bacterial infections that only serve to make the situation worse. Most bedsores are easily preventable and due to the manner in which they progress, it is unacceptable for bedsores to go unnoticed until their late stages.

What is Sepsis?

Septic shock, otherwise known as sepsis, is a special type of infection that has the ability to spread rapidly to different areas of the body due to a presence in the blood stream. There is usually a period of 72 hours when sepsis treatment is most effective, making it extremely important to notice and identify sepsis quickly and to respond promptly to it. Sepsis from decubitus ulcers poses additional challenges due to the tissue degeneration that has already occurred and an elevated rate of hypoxia throughout the body and major organs. Hypoxia occurs when a body part is deprived of oxygen and when bedsores already exist in a sepsis infection; the sepsis robs the body of even more oxygen, making recovery more difficult and increasing mortality.

Treating Septic Shock

As soon as a caregiver suspects the possibility of sepsis in an elderly patient, the clock begins to tick and treatment must be administered quickly. Antibiotics are given intravenously and the amount of oxygen in the blood and major organs is monitored. In all cases of septic shock, studies have shown that the mortality rates rose steadily with later detection and treatment and that conversely, early treatment significantly improved patients’ chances of recovering. Unfortunately, many cases of sepsis in nursing home are not detected early enough because the bedsores that invited the infection are neglected and ignored.

Preventing Bed Sores In Nursing Home Patients

The most effective way to help ensure that elderly patients will never find themselves in a position to require sepsis treatment is to prevent bedsores, which are notorious as an avenue of infection. This can be accomplished through better beds and medical equipment and also through proper care, such as moving a patient into another position if he or she has remained still for over two hours. If possible, patients should be allowed and encouraged to take walks in order to help circulation and reduce the amount of time they are confined to a bed in one position.

Sepsis is a serious medical condition that has a high rate of complication and death. Because the elderly suffer mortality rates that are much higher than any other age group as a result of sepsis, we need to be mindful and take any precaution needed to prevent the condition in the first place. Decubitus ulcers are a major cause of septic shock and are easily preventable. By being more mindful and finding bedsores in their earlier stages, we can prolong the lives of many of our loved ones.

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If your loved one developed a decubitus ulcer at a nursing home , there is a good chance that the negligence of the nursing home may have contributed to the problem.  When a facility was negligent, the individual or family may be entitled to bring a lawsuit against the facility for the ulcers.

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