Pressure Sore Complications: Septic Shock

By Nursing Home Law Center

Septic shock, also referred to as severe sepsis, septicemic shock, endotoxic shock, warm shock or bacteremic shock, is a very serious medical condition that is indicative of the advanced form of sepsis. Most cases of septic shock can be traced to exposure to bacteria, virus or fungus that may enter the body through environmental exposure or through wounds (bed sores) or medical devices introduced to the body such as: catheters, intravenous lines (IV), PICC lines, drainage lines or inadequately sanitized surgical hardware.

In many cases involving septic shock, the underlying bacterial or fungal exposure results in colonization of the agent produces toxins may cause damage to organs, tissue and contribute to low blood pressure. The body’s natural defense mechanism to this exposure is an inflammatory reaction that may cause further damage to tissue and system function. Patients diagnosed with septic shock certainly face an uphill battle as the fatality rate is more than 50% over a one-year period following the diagnosis.

Connection Between the Development of Septic Shock & Bed Sores

Septic Shock

Patients with advanced bed sores (also referred to as: pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers) are at risk for going into septic shock due to open wounds created by the bedsores and the bodies inherently weakened condition as a result of the underlying wounds.

Consequently, treatment plans for patients with stage 4 bed sores should contain regular staff checks both of the wound and of the individual for the early signs of what may be the onset of sepsis. Symptoms of sepsis / septic shock may include:

  • Elevated or depressed body temperature
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low urine output
  • Discolorization of skin / rash
  • Delirium / confusion
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath

In addition to monitoring the external manifestations of septic shock, medical providers may monitor the patient’s condition with ongoing lab tests of the urine and blood to determine if an infection is present and to test organ function. Yet, in other patients, doctors may use x-rays determine if there is any fluid in the lungs.

Given the dire prognosis and difficult treatment process related to patients with septic shock, staff in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals must be mindful of this condition and obtain the input from a specialist as soon as septic shock is suspected.

Related Information

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources

Client Reviews

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric