legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Dehydration Injury Lawyers
One of the more common nursing home injuries is dehydration. This is both an injury in itself and a cause of other maladies. While dehydration is unfortunately too prevalent in elderly patients, it does have to be the case. If a nursing facility exercises ordinary care to provide for its residents’ needs, the cases of poor hydration would be greatly reduced. This has the potential to cause lasting damage and even death for many residents.
If your loved one has been injured or has died as a result of becoming dehydrated or malnourished at a nursing home, the neglect attorneys at the NHLC can help you hold the facility accountable in a court of law. We have experience with all types of negligence cases and have helped families who have had loved ones suffer serious injuries. We are able to help establish the facts and present them to a court if the facility will not settle your claim beforehand.Statistics About Dehydration in Long-Term Care Patients
Studies have shown that those who reside in long-term care facilities are far more likely to become dehydrated than seniors who reside at home. There was a research survey in the United Kingdom that showed that seniors who were admitted to hospitals from nursing facilities were five times as likely to have a high salt level that is indicative of inadequate fluids. This trend is not just limited to the U.K. It is estimated that around half of nursing home residents suffer from some degree of inadequate nutrition.How Dehydration Occurs in Elderly Residents
Dehydration in nursing home residents can be caused by a number of different factors. Those with dementia or other cognitive disabilities can often forget to drink water. Then, if a facility is understaffed or if family members do not visit, there is nobody to make sure that the resident drinks enough water to remain hydrated.
Alternatively, those who are not ambulatory and able to get up to use the bathroom on their own may be afraid to drink water since they do not want to have an accident. Usually, these residents have very high cognitive abilities and are consciously avoiding drinking because they are aware of the possible result. This is even more so when the nursing staff does not often help the residents to use the bathroom in time. Finally, residents may not have the verbal abilities to articulate themselves and ask for water when they are thirsty.
As you can see, staffing and the level of care is directly tied in with rates of dehydration. Many nursing facilities simply do not have a level of staff that is adequate to provide proper care for their residents. In many cases, nursing facilities consciously keep staff levels low in order to inflate their profits. Facilities with inadequate staff are usually the ones who end up with residents who become critically ill from dehydration and other illnesses that derive from neglect. In some instances, the staff will simply leave a cup of water on the resident’s table without actually ensuring that they drink it.The Consequences of Dehydration in the Elderly
Dehydration on its own can cause severe health problems. It can also be a contributing factor to other health issues. For example, a lack of proper hydration can affect the strength of the skin. Dehydrated residents are more prone to experiencing breakdowns of the skin. Combined with inadequate care in shifting the resident’s position, this can lead to bedsores (pressure sores). In many negligence lawsuits against nursing facilities for pressure ulcers, dehydration is also occurring at the same time. Many times, it is difficult to tell which one is the cause and which one is the effect when the resident has both pressure ulcers and dehydration.
There are serious medical conditions that can result from, dehydration. They include:
Kidney Failure – This is one of the most common results of dehydration. Water keeps the kidneys functioning regularly and properly. Lack of water will impair the kidneys’ function and lead to an increase in toxins in the blood and body.
Brain Swelling – Regular water consumption is vital for proper brain functioning. When water consumption is stopped and then started, the body may attempt to store excessive water which can lead to swelling.
Urinary Tract Infections – The lack of consistent urine passing through the urinary tract can lead to infection. Many times, this is how dehydration can ultimately cause death because the facility will not treat the infection and it will lead to sepsis.
Pressure Ulcers – As detailed above, lack of hydration can hasten breakdown in the skin.
Choking – When a resident does not have the proper hydration, their throat can become dry leading to an increased risk that they will not be able to swallow their food properly.
Weight Loss – Some of the resident’s body weight consists of water. When a resident becomes dehydrated, they will lose weight and it will cause increased frailty, leaving them more vulnerable to fractures.
Nursing facilities must take the proper steps to ensure that its residents continuously drink and hydrate. They should be on the lookout for some telling symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth, confusion, and dry skin. Oftentimes, when dehydration progresses to the later stages, there will be symptoms that include low blood pressure, delirium, and unconsciousness. When those occur, it may be too late to help the resident and the patient may ultimately die from dehydration.Sample Lawsuits and Settlements Against a Nursing Home for Dehydration
Here are some instances in which families have received financial compensation for injuries suffered by their family member when they became dehydrated in a nursing home setting.
Jury Award for $150,000 in New York (2016) – The resident was admitted to the hospital three separate times for dehydration. Each time, the hospital was able to treat the dehydration, but the family argued that the repeated instances of dehydration made the resident’s other health conditions worse. The lawsuit alleged that the nursing facility could not effectively treat the resident’s dehydration and did not adequately hydrate the resident, causing dehydration.
Settlement for $300,000 in California (2010) – The resident was a 39-year old in a persistent vegetative state. There was a heatwave and the nursing facility's air conditioning stopped working. The facility simply left the door open to get the resident air and he developed severe dehydration. The family argued that the facility was simply trying to maximize profits and was not adequately staffed to treat the residents.
Settlement for $315,000 in Illinois – The resident had a variety of ailments, including renal insufficiency. The resident became severely dehydrated after he arrived at Illinois nursing facility, which exacerbated his kidney condition and ultimately led to his death.
Jury Award for $850,000 in Virginia (2007) – The resident died while from a combination of pressure ulcers, malnutrition, and dehydration. The lawsuit claimed that the medical facility failed to adequately train and oversee the staff and the jury found the facility liable.
Jury Verdict for $6.5 million in Ohio (2009) – The resident was admitted to Ohio facility after suffering a stroke. He became dehydrated and suffered from kidney damage. The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that the facility caused the resident’s death by failing to keep him adequately hydrated. The SNF claimed that his dehydration was caused by diarrhea after he had already left the facility. The resident’s young age appears to have contributed to the high amount of the jury award given that $6 million of the verdict was for the loss of service.
Jury Verdict for $1.75 million in Texas (2000) – This is a general neglect case where the nursing facilities failure to care for the resident-led to pressure sores and severe dehydration that caused the resident’s death.
Settlement for $300,000 in South Carolina (2005) – The resident had chronic urinary tract infections that the South Carolina nursing facility failed to treat. Staff also allowed the resident to become severely dehydrated. The combination of the two conditions caused the resident’s death.
Settlement for $345,000 in Missouri – The lawsuit alleged that the nursing home failed to monitor the resident’s condition and provide him with the appropriate level of care. This led to pressure ulcers and severe dehydration. Ultimately, the resident went into a diabetic coma and died.Has Your Loved One Suffered From Dehydration While Residing at a Nursing Home? Get Legal Help Now
As you can see from the above cases, dehydration often results from the neglect or negligence of a nursing home. This is something for which they can be held legally responsible. In order to do so, you need a nursing home abuse attorney on your side. At the Nursing Home Law Center, we specialize in helping make sure that nursing homes that harm your loved one cannot avoid responsibility for their action.
We attempt to make sure that their negligence can see the light of day in court. Call us today at (800) 726-9565 to schedule your free no-risk case assessment so we can hear in your words what happened. Then, working with you, we can figure out what the next steps you would need to take are in order to receive financial compensation for your loved one’s injury.