In modern times and in developed countries, dehydration is no longer something that most people think twice about, let alone worry about. Especially in nursing homes and other care facilities where patients are expecting to receive high-quality care, dehydration is a concern that is far from the mind.
Which is why the statistics regarding the number of nursing home patients throughout the United States that suffer from dehydration are so shocking. Indeed, one source reports that at least one-third of all nursing home patients suffer from dehydration, malnutrition, or both.
Dehydration in nursing homes is a serious problem, and one that should not go ignored. If you believe that your elderly loved one is dehydrated, don’t hesitate to take action. Our lawyers at the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC can help. Call us today for a free consultation and more information.
UNDERSTANDING NURSING HOME NEGLECT AND DEHYDRATION
When a nursing home resident is dehydrated, it is likely that that dehydration is closely related to malnutrition; not only does food contain water that aids with hydration, but malnutrition can also lead to health conditions that may contribute to dehydration. In many cases, a resident will suffer from both dehydration and malnutrition, which can lead to severe deterioration of a patient’s condition.
Dehydration in a nursing home setting isn’t inevitable. Instead, dehydration typically occurs as a result of nursing home neglect. This neglect is characterized by:
- Failing to ensure the resident is consuming enough liquids, or being given fluids intravenously if necessary;
- Failing to properly supervise the resident and assist during mealtimes;
- Lack of accessible fluids – i.e. not providing water at meals;
- Poor staff to patient ratio; and
- Failing to treat other conditions and health complications that can lead to dehydration, such as diabetes, the use of certain medications, vomiting or diarrhea.
THE SYMPTOMS & EFFECTS OF NURSING HOME DEHYDRATION
Symptoms and effects of dehydration should not be taken lightly. When the body does not have the proper amount of fluids, it cannot function properly. While symptoms start out mild, they can quickly become severe and serious. Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth;
- Lack of tears;
- Dry eyes;
- Sunken eyes or cheeks;
- Infrequent urination;
- Balance and coordination issues;
- Cramping in limbs/muscles;
- Feeling unwell;
- Dark urine;
- Low blood pressure; and
- Rapid pulse.
Dehydration’s symptoms and effects do not stop there; dehydration can be very dangerous and deadly. For example, when the body does not have enough fluids, kidney function is impaired. This could lead to lack of consciousness, which causes an elderly person to fall, which could subsequently result in a number of other injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury or bone fracture injury. Dehydration is a slippery slope that can be hard to treat once decline begins – in fact, it can be a fatal condition.
PREVENTING DEHYDRATION AMONGST ELDERLY NURSING HOME RESIDENTS
When elderly people are well-hydrated, they are less at risk for certain health conditions and injury types, and may prolong their life and quality of life as such. A caregiver should not only ensure that water is being given (and consumed) at meals, but that an elderly person has access to water at many times throughout the day. Elderly persons who have certain health conditions that interfere with their ability to consume water, such as difficulty swallowing, should receive special care regarding putting a method in place to ensure that enough fluids are consumed or given throughout the day.
Nursing home nurses also have a duty to watch for signs that could be indicative of dehydration, and to take action immediately if any signs are noticed. For example, if a caregiver is noticing that the elderly person is having balance issues or is complaining of feeling dizzy, or if urine is particularly dark, water should be given. If symptoms are severe, the nursing home staff member should not hesitate to seek medical attention. If they do and harm occurs, they are neglecting their duty of care to the resident, and the nursing home may be held liable for this failure.
BRINGING FORTH A LEGAL ACTION FOR NURSING HOME NEGLECT
If you believe that your loved one in a nursing home is suffering from dehydration as a result of nursing home neglect, you should report your concerns to the nursing home immediately, as well as the Minnesota Department of Health. You should also contact an attorney as soon as possible, who can help you to begin gathering evidence of neglect and harm suffered, holding the nursing home liable for whatever damages have befallen your loved one and your family. Taking action quickly is very important in order to better help protect your loved one and give them the justice they deserve.
Please keep in mind that our law firm can help you to pursue civil charges; while criminal charges may be relevant, you will need to speak to law enforcement if you believe a crime has been committed or if you believe your loved one is at imminent risk of harm or death.
OUR LAWYERS ARE HERE TO HELP YOU
At the office of the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC, our experienced nursing home neglect attorneys believe that no one should ever suffer harm as a result of dehydration, least of all a nursing home resident whose care has been placed in the hands of professionals. When you call our law firm, we will get to work immediately to help you stop nursing home neglect, protect your loved one, and pursue damages for any economic and noneconomic losses incurred.
Please call our Minnesota nursing home neglect attorneys today for your free consultation. You can also send us information about your case and your concerns using the contact form found on our website. We will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.