Can Dehydration Contribute to the Development of Bed Sores?

WaterBed sores occur when the skin suffers damage from external pressure or friction. Although healthy skin can develop bed sores, they are more common in patients with weak, brittle, thin, or unhealthy skin. Hydration has a direct effect on the elasticity and health of the skin. Dehydration, or not receiving enough fluids, can sap the skin of important fluids, vitamins, nutrients, and oxygen. Dehydration can increase the risk of bed sores, as well as result in slow healing if a patient does develop a pressure ulcer.

Bed Sores and Proper Hydration

Bed sores are most common in the elderly for numerous reasons, including lack of mobility and incontinence. One contributing factor, however, is dehydration. Elderly individuals with trouble eating or drinking, or who do not receive the necessary nutrients through diet are more at risk of developing bed sores. Dehydration can contribute to bed sores by compromising the health of the skin. The skin relies on an adequate water supply for the following important benefits:

  • Digestion. Drinking enough fluids helps the organs properly digest food. This can result in better nutrient and protein absorption, as well as a healthy digestive system.
  • Circulation. Water can boost skin cell activity and aid in oxygen and blood circulation in the body. This can lead to healthy, stronger skin tissues.
  • Elasticity. Dehydrated skin often appears wrinkled, as it loses some of its elasticity. Wrinkled skin can be more prone to tears and damage.

Dehydrated skin may become tight, dry, flaky, or wrinkly. It has less resistance to pressure, friction, and tearing. Something that might not cause a bed sore in a properly hydrated individual could in someone suffering from dehydration. It is important for elderly individuals not only to drink enough water, but to also absorb moisture into the skin directly, through the use of moisturizers and lotion products.

Hydration does not directly cause bed sores, but it can be a risk factor that contributes to someone’s likelihood of a bed sore. Hydration can also impact wound healing. Dehydration can affect blood volume in the skin, as well as oxygen levels near the wound site. Lack of blood and oxygen means lack of nutrients necessary to heal a bed sore. A hydrated individual may have a longer healing time than someone without enough fluids – or the patient may not heal at all.

Who is Liable for Dehydration and Bed Sores?

If your elderly loved one developed a bed sore and also suffers from poor nutrition or dehydration, these are all red flags for nursing home resident or hospital patient neglect. Dehydration may have contributed to the development of the bed sore, and may also impede proper skin healing during pressure sore treatment. Your family could be eligible for compensation for dehydration-related bed sores.

A nursing home is responsible for the physical well-being of its residents. Nursing homes and their staff members must provide nutrient-rich meals, even for residents who have trouble chewing or swallowing. They must also ensure residents get enough fluids and electrolytes for proper hydration. Failure to ensure proper hydration or nutrition is an act of negligence that could cause the resident a range of health problems – including an increased risk of bed sores.

A personal injury claim against the nursing home could help the injured patient recover compensation for medical bills, physical pain, emotional suffering, and lost quality of life if dehydration contributed to a bed sore. It is up to the injured patient or his or her family members to file a claim against the negligent facility or individual caregiver.

An attorney can help a family learn their rights, identify nursing home neglect in a bed sore case, and file a claim within the deadline. A victim may be eligible for significant compensation from a negligent nursing home if dehydration adversely impacted health.


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