legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Malnutrition Lawyer
A nursing home resident's medical condition or negligence by the staff could cause malnutrition and dehydration. Granted, staff often encounter challenges with feeding residents who have challenges with the activities of daily life.
Some instances of lack of nutrition are not necessarily the fault of the facility. However, many severe weight loss cases are a direct result of staff negligence and are legally actionable.
Did your loved one in a nursing facility suffer from starvation, and you suspect the facility's negligence is to blame? If so, contact a nursing home malnutrition attorney to help vindicate the rights of your loved one.
The nursing home will invariably claim that your loved one's condition was caused by their declining health and refusal to eat.
A Nursing Home Malnutrition and Dehydration Injury Attorney Can Help
You might need a nursing abuse lawyer to prove your case. The network-affiliate personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC have years of experience resolving malnutrition cases.
Let's talk about your financial compensation during a free case evaluation with our injury lawyers to determine how much your nursing home neglect case might be worth.
Malnutrition is Prevalent in Nursing Homes
Some studies indicate that up to one in five home patients suffer from inadequate nutrition and hydration. There is a wide variance in the statistics regarding individual facilities as the rates might vary.
Some of the variances can be attributed to the health of the residents at that home. However, that is not the entire story. Some homes do not provide the proper level of care for their residents, and, as a result, those patients suffer from inadequate nourishment at a higher rate.
The rate of malnutrition among seniors at nursing facilities is nearly double that for those seniors living at home.
What Nursing Staff Members Can Do to Prevent Malnutrition
Nursing homes must provide their elderly residents with an appropriate diet according to their needs. Staff members must give each resident three nutritious meals per day and correct hydration with no more than fourteen hours between the first meal and the last meal.
Some patients have difficulty swallowing due to their health issues. In that event, the elder home must provide the resident with pureed food to give the nursing home patient the proper nutrition.
Alternatively, there should be a nursing home personnel member in the dining room to cut the resident's food into small pieces.
Homes must have a dietician to handle matters relating to each resident's diet and medical condition. Federal regulations not only require that there be a dietician but that the person also meets specific licensing and educational requirements.
The nurses and caregivers must monitor the resident's food consumption and follow the Care Plan to ensure that the senior is not malnourished. All supplements should be given to the elderly patient when necessary.
Medicare inspection reports often investigate regulation violations when residents lose a certain percentage of body weight.
Regardless of the circumstances, a facility will be responsible from a regulatory perspective if its patients lose weight due to malnutrition.
The Side Effects of Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Home Residents
Malnutrition produces severe side effects for the patient that could develop health complications or die. Many malnourished individuals suffer from depression.
The common causes of malnutrition and minimal fluid intake weaken the body's immune system and leave the patient more vulnerable to other illnesses that might include:
- Dry skin
- Kidney failure
- Difficulty in focusing
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- High anxiety
- Loss of muscle mass
- Slow healing
Third, patients who weigh less will have weakened bones that will make them more susceptible to fractures.
Finally, the lack of nutrition might affect their balance, making residents more likely to suffer injury in a fall.
Also, malnutrition or dehydration is a significant contributor to pressure sores in residents. When a senior does not receive the proper nutrition, it leads to the skin becoming brittle.
This breakdown in the skin will leave the resident more vulnerable to developing pressure ulcers if their position is not frequently shifted
Malnutrition Contributing Factors
Most long-term care facilities thoughtfully comply with regulatory obligations to ensure that their residents receive the correct amount of nutrition.
However, at some skilled nursing facilities, the staffing level is deliberately kept low to keep the profits as high as possible, often to its residents' detriment.
Cutting staffing hours could result in the patient suffering from malnutrition when there is not adequate supervision to help during mealtimes.
Many instances in which elderly patients have become malnourished can be directly tied to a lack of adequate staffing at care homes.
There have been documented instances where the home had an entire dining room full of residents and only one or two certified nursing assistants (CNA's) present and helping residents.
Other citations have noted the fact that CNA's were on their phone sending texts instead of helping the residents with their food as they should.
Other inspection reports have noted issues in foodservice among nursing facilities. For example, some skilled nursing facilities served food that did not have sufficient nutritional value for other older adults in the home.
Other facilities served food that was unappetizing and, in some cases, inedible. Nursing facilities often experience issues with both food storage and maintaining sanitary conditions, both of which can impact a resident's overall ability to receive proper nutrition.
Nursing Home Malnutrition FAQs
What Are the Signs of Malnutrition in an Elderly Nursing Home Resident?
If you suspect that your loved one has been malnourished while residing in a nursing home, take steps to ensure they receive adequate nutrition.
Elderly patients require high levels of protein, B vitamins, calcium, sodium, and potassium.
The typical warning signs that your loved one has suffered from malnutrition include:
- Prolonged physical and mental fatigue
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Constantly getting sick
- Memory issues and difficulty concentrating
- Slow-healing wounds
- Cracked, bruised, or dry skin
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Loose-fitting close
What Should Nursing Home Staff Do to Prevent Elderly Malnutrition?
Nursing home caregivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that each patient maintains his or her highest level of functioning. Part of this responsibility means personnel need to monitor each patient's food and fluid intake.
In situations where a patient is not eating or drinking sufficient amounts, caregivers should make a note in the patient's medical chart and bring the situation to the director of nursing if needed.
Early intervention by nursing caregivers can help protect the patient from serious medical complications that may follow.
What Are the 4 Types of Malnutrition?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition involves imbalances, excesses, and deficiencies in the nursing home resident's energy/nutrient consumption. The four sub-forms of malnutrition include underweight, wasting away, stunting, and minerals and vitamin deficiencies.
Some malnourished individuals suffer from obesity, being overweight, and diet-associated diseases, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and cancer. Others have micronutrient-associated malnutrition, lacking essential vitamins and minerals.
Undernutrition also affects many neglected senior citizens who waste away due to a lack of food consumption.
What Diseases Are Associated With Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents?
Malnourishment could cause serious health problems, including eye issues, stunted growth, heart disease, and diabetes. The calorie/protein deficiency might lead to a failure to gain weight, a loss of body weight, wasting muscles, and depleted stored body fat.
Some senior citizens develop extreme anemia associated with a loss of caloric intake, requiring supplemental vitamin C and B-complex, iron, and proteins.
Can Malnutrition Be Reversed?
Yes, malnutrition can be reversed. According to the National Institutes of Health, malnourishment is a significant health problem in the nursing home industry responsible for the high mortality rate in senior citizens.
Under-nutrition is a significant problem in aging men and women challenged to consume all necessary nutrients required by the body.
Some nursing home residents must be supervised to ensure they consume sufficient nutrients to maintain a healthy well-being. The nursing staff must develop a healthy diet to ensure that the resident stays nourished and hydrated.
Sample Nursing Home Malnutrition Lawsuits & Settlements
Often, malnutrition is one of many different facts in a nursing home negligence lawsuit that is blamed for harming the patient. In other words, a lawsuit might allege that an overall lack of care led to conditions such as pressure ulcers, malnutrition, and other accidents.
Malnourishment will often shock juries and might result in punitive damages against nursing facilities since a jury might notice that something is wrong when a resident dramatically loses weight.
Here are some lawsuits that have been filed for malnutrition. Many of these lawsuits have led to settlements of jury awards that have given financial compensation to families.
Jury Verdict for $3,000,000 in Arkansas
Malnourishment was a contributing factor in the nursing home staff's shocking mistreatment of a resident. The patient did not receive the proper nourishment and suffered from many broken bones.
Also, the victim's numerous infections led to leg amputations. The nursing home negligence lawsuit alleged that the skilled nursing facility did not thoroughly investigate, hire, or train staff members to identify malnutrition's common symptoms. The jury verdict included punitive damages of $2 million.
Jury Verdict for $2,300,000 in Texas
A severely malnourished resident suffered from pressure ulcers that ultimately led to their death. The family argued that the caregivers completely neglected their loved one in basic healthcare necessities of daily life, including hygiene and nutrition, to protect their well-being.
The nursing home staff allegedly did not assist the resident in obtaining adequate nutrition and hydration. Included in the damages was a $2 million punitive damage award. The nursing home gave a low settlement offer to the plaintiff, which resulted in a trial.
The jury needed only five hours of deliberations to find the liable for nursing home neglect.
Settlement for $525,000 in New York
The resident arrived at the skilled nursing facility in good nutritional shape but began to experience issues. The nursing home staff allegedly did not communicate dietary issues to the family, nor did they assess what nutrition the patient was receiving at mealtimes.
The resident suffered weight loss through a loss of appetite and ultimately passed away. The personal injury lawsuit claimed that the caregivers ignored the signs of malnutrition. The resident developed pressure ulcers (bedsores) that became infected, which was listed as the cause of death.
Jury Verdict for $12,021,630 in Florida
The resident's family alleged that the resident was attacked several times by other residents. While at the facility, their loved one developed gastritis.
However, the facility allegedly failed to take the proper measures to maintain adequate nutrition.
The resident lost forty-one pounds while at the facility, although the facts do not indicate the exact percentage of body weight lost. The patient died at a hospital of dehydration.
The trial jurors awarded an additional ten million dollars in punitive damages against the facility above the over two million dollars in compensatory damages.
Settlement for $95,000 in Michigan
The resident required a high-protein diet to maintain proper nutrition and healthy well-being. The patient's nursing home abuse lawyer proved no consultation ever happened with a dietician to provide the resident with the necessary protein. The lack of care led to the victim's malnutrition and dehydration.
Did Your Family Member Suffer From Malnutrition? Speak with Trusted Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Did the nursing staff fail to provide your loved one the proper amount of nutrition, and they became malnourished while under the care of a skilled nursing facility?
If so, you should get legal help as soon as possible.
The network affiliate attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center can help. Our lawyers will speak to you during a free no-risk case assessment and provide legal advice to move your viable legal claim forward for compensation.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.