Sepsis is a term we hear frequently in nursing home cases.
– Pressure Ulcer develops, infection sets in and resident is hospitilized for treatment of “sepsis.”
– Resident stubs her toe, gangrene develops and she is hospitilized for treatment of gangrene and “sepsis.”
– Resident is incontinent, gets a UTI that goes untreated. Finally UTI is treated but the infection has spread and it is “sepsis.”

What is “sepsis” and how is it treated? defines Sepsis as:
“Sepsis: Commonly called a “blood stream infection.” The presence of bacteria (bacteremia) or other infectious organisms or their toxins in the blood (septicemia) or in other tissue of the body. Sepsis may be associated with clinical symptoms of systemic (bodywide) illness, such as fever, chills, malaise (generally feeling “rotten”), low blood pressure, and mental status changes. Sepsis can be a serious situation, a life threatening disease calling for urgent and comprehensive care.
Treatment depends on the type of infection, but usually begins with antibiotics or similar medications. Also known as blood poisoning, septicemia. “

It is serious, scary – and causes the death of thousands of elderly, long term care patients every year.

Today, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine (
published a study on sepsis treatment. The conclusion was that early treatment is the most effective.

What does that mean in a nursing home setting? Well – that a pressure ulcer, scar, UTI, fever – are more than they seem, and require aggressive treatment. So if you are told Granddad has a fever – get him to the hospital. A bruise or ulcer doesn’t heal – get your Mom checked out. Fast, before the infection spreads to the blood and sepsis occurs.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at