What Is Sepsis?

"Sepsis is the body's overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death."--The Sepsis Foundation. Sepsis is serious and kills over 258,000 Americans every year.

Medical professionals have been debating the exact definition of sepsis for decades. However, one thing they can agree upon is the origin of the disease. The word sepsis comes from the Greek meaning “decay” or “to putrefy.” In medical terms, sepsis is defined as either “the presence of pathogenic organisms or their toxins in the blood and tissues” or “the poisoned condition resulting from the presence of pathogens or their toxins as in septicemia.”[1]

Do You Suspect Your Loved One Has Developed Sepsis?

If you suspect your loved one has developed sepsis during the course of their residence in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or other occupational facility, first contact emergency services and tell them you are concerned about sepsis, then contact an experienced nursing home injury attorney. At Hughey Law Firm, we have the experience and resources to help you and your loved one get the justice you both deserve. We have developed a network of medical and nursing professionals and experienced investigators who are ready to research and document every aspect of your case to help establish the potential liability of your loved one's caregivers and the corporate owners and insurers of the facility. Allowing a resident to become septic does not meet the high standard care your loved one deserves or that the law requires.

Contact us online or call (843) 881-8644 today to arrange a free initial consultation of your case.

If you have a loved one in a long term care or assisted living facility, it is important to learn the warning signs of sepsis because, unfortunately, it may be up to you get your loved one the treatment they need to prevent septic shock. Sepsis symptoms are grouped into five broad categories:

  • General Symptoms
    • Fever
    • Hypothermia
    • Heart rate > 90 beats per minute
    • Fast respiratory rate
    • Altered mental status (confusion/coma)
  • Inflammatory
    • High white count
    • Low white count
    • Immature white blood cells in the circulation
    • Elevated plasma C-reactive protein
    • Elevated procalcitonin (PCT)
  • Hemodynamic
    • Low blood pressure
    • Low central venous or mixed venous oxygen saturation
    • High cardiac index
  • Organ Dysfunction
    • Low oxygen level
    • Low urine output
    • High creatinine
    • Coagulation abnormalities
    • Absent bowel sounds
    • Low platelets
    • High bilirubin
  • Tissue Perfusion
    • High lactate
    • Decreased capillary filling or mottling
Post-Sepsis Syndrome

It is important that sepsis be detected and treated early. A study by the University of Michigan Health System published in 2010 in the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that "60% of hospitalization for severe sepsis were associated with worsened cognitive and physical function among surviving older adults. The odds of acquiring moderate to severe impairment were 3.3 times higher following an episode of sepsis than for other hospitalizations."[2] Cognitive decline is only one of the ways Post-Sepsis Syndrome presents. Your loved one may also suffer from prolonged, permanent physical decline, experience long-term neurological effects, or even develop emotional emotional problems. At least 50% of all sepsis survivors will develop Post-Sepsis Syndrome (PSS). Read more here.

References: [1] "Definition of Sepsis"; The Sepsis Alliance; Date: [n:d]; Viewed: 2015-09-24;

[2]"Sepsis Survivors More Than Three Times as Likely to have Cognitive Issues"; Lead Author: Theodore Iwashyna, M.D., Phd; Date: 10/26/10; Viewed:9/26/15;