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Sepsis Threat to Nursing Home Patients Highlighted by Recent Government Study

Hospitalizations for septicemia accounted for 21 percent of Medicare spending on nursing home resident hospitalizations – outpacing by a wide margin the costs associated with pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

That’s the conclusion reached by a newly released study by the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Our Fort Myers personal injury lawyers have handled cases involving sepsis and other types of infections commonly seen in nursing homes when the quality of care is lacking.

The term sepsis is often used interchangeably with the related condition septicemia, which is characterized as a serious, often fatal infection that progresses rapidly in the body.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sepsis is a complication from an infection, occurring when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation may trigger a cascade of changes leading to organ failure(lungs, kidney and liver), septic shock, and a dramatic drop in blood pressure.

Sepsis is most common and most dangerous in elderly people or those with weakened immune systems. Early and aggressive treatment of sepsis with antibiotics and intravenous fluids improves the chances for survival. The new government study addressed the cost of having to transfer Medicare patients from nursing homes to hospitals for treatment of serious medical conditions.

In 2011, septicemia accounted for 20.8 percent of Medicare spending on nursing home resident hospitalizations, trailed by pneumonia (5.9 percent), congestive heart failure (4.5 percent), and respiratory failure (4.5 percent). In fact, the almost $3 billion spent on nursing home resident hospitalizations associated with septicemia was more than the combined costs associated with pneumonia, congestive heart failure and respiratory failure.

The highest annual hospitalization rates for all acute medical conditions were found in nursing homes located in the southern states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, and in nursing homes with lower quality ratings under the government’s five-star rating system.

The latest government report examining the dire threat of sepsis to nursing home patients tracks the findings of a more general study released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2011.

In a key finding, the CDC reported that the overall rate of hospitalizations for sepsis or septicemia more than doubled between 2000 and 2008. The CDC estimated that, in 2008, $14.6 billion was spent on hospitalizations for septicemia.

The CDC highlighted the fact that hospitalization rates for septicemia or sepsis increased depending on the age of the patient.

The CDC report concluded that “septicemia is a leading cause of death” and that survivors of severe sepsis have an increased likelihood of physical disability, cognitive impairment and permanent organ damage.

To get help from an experienced personal injury law firm in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples or Port Charlotte, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner toll free at 800.646.1210.