Sepsis From UTIs in Nursing Home Residents

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UTIs can develop into sepsis. Nursing home residents may be especially at risk. Our Greenville nursing home abuse attorney at Bobby Jones Law explains the risk of sepsis from UTIs among nursing home residents.

Understanding Sepsis from UTIs

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. In men, it also includes the prostate. The urinary system removes waste from the body. Females and males can contract a UTI, but women have higher risk.

Urinary tract infections

A urinary tract infection occurs when the urinary system becomes infected. It may affect any part of the urinary system including the kidneys, bladder and urethra. The symptoms are not always easy to recognize. The person may have a strong urge to urinate, incontinence, a burning sensation during urination or urine that is an unusual color or smell.

UTIs in nursing home residents

Despite being one of the most common infections among nursing home residents, UTIs are often misdiagnosed and overlooked. UTIs may be misdiagnosed in as many of 40% of elderly patients admitted to the hospital. Care providers often dismiss symptoms as fatigue or weakness. Symptoms are often treated with antibiotics that are resistant and ineffective.

Most UTIs develop when bacteria enter the urinary tract and grow. Escherichia coli (E. coli) may infect the bladder, and GI bacteria can spread from the anus or through sexual contact. Conditions in a nursing home may contribute to the development of a UTI including poor nutrition or inadequate personal hygiene. In addition, the reduction in female estrogen following menopause can increase the risk of a UTI. Seniors may have a compromised immune system which reduces their defenses. Catheter use and medical instruments may expose the urinary system to bacteria.

What is urosepsis?

Urosepsis is sepsis that results from a urinary tract infection. The UTI causes an extreme response in the immune system. Urosepsis can damage organs and cause bodily systems to fail. Death may result.

How does a UTI turn into sepsis?

Urosepsis occurs when the immune system responds inappropriately and overwhelmingly to a UTI. The body begins attacking its own organs, and the organs may shut down. If a UTI is severe, persistent or left untreated, or if the immune system doesn’t respond to it effectively, sepsis may develop. Risk factors and improper treatment may make it more likely for sepsis to occur. Sepsis may be severe, and it may progress to septic shock.

What are signs of sepsis from UTI?

Signs of sepsis from UTI include:

  • Fever, chills, nausea and vomiting
  • Elevated breathing/respiratory rate
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • High blood cell count
  • Organ damage
  • Organ failure including kidney failure
  • Abnormal mental function or behavior

Sepsis from a UTI in a Nursing Home

When treated correctly and in a timely manner, most UTIs heal quickly. But for nursing home residents, a UTI may be left untreated, misdiagnosed or treated improperly. Care providers may not diagnose the UTI until it is too late and sepsis has set in.

A person with sepsis needs urgent medical care. Treatment will likely include antibiotics and intravenous fluid. Complications may be managed like dropping blood pressure and poor lung function. Supplemental oxygen may ease symptoms, and a ventilator may be used.

Lawyers for Sepsis from UTIs in Nursing Home Patients

If you or a family member has been harmed by sepsis in a nursing home, or have other complications from a UTI, we invite you to contact Bobby Jones Law. We are lawyers for nursing home patients who have suffered from UTI complications.

Our team can investigate what occurred. We can look at whether the UTI was the result of negligence like inadequate hygiene or a lack of medical attention. We can investigate whether the UTI was properly diagnosed and if medical care was adequate for the UTI and any complications including sepsis.

Bobby Jones Law represents people who have been harmed in a nursing home. We are proud to represent the most vulnerable including nursing home residents. If you or a loved one has been harmed, please contact us for a free case evaluation.


Management of urinary tract infections in elderly patients, BMJ Qual Improv Rep., 2014.

Urinary Tract Infection Induced Delirium in Elderly Patients, Cureus., 2022.

What Is Urosepsis?, WebMD, 2021.

Urosepsis, Cleveland Clinic, 2023.

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