Has your loved one suffered from dehydration at a nursing home? Caregivers at nursing homes have a duty to provide the care needed by the residents, including making sure residents receive proper nutrition and hydration. If the caregivers fail to do so, the nursing home may be liable for the harm your loved one suffered.
If your loved one suffered from dehydration at a nursing home, you may be eligible to recover compensation for their harm. A nursing home abuse lawyer from Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. can help you determine your eligibility and navigate the complicated process. Call today: 419-843-6663.
Is elderly dehydration really that dangerous?
Yes. Many people think that dehydration is not a serious matter. A person just needs to drink a glass of water, and they will be fine. Not true. Dehydration is a serious and dangerous condition that can cause the following serious and life-threatening complications:
- Kidney failure (can be reversible if treated early)
- Decreased blood pressure (can cause decreased blood flow to the kidneys, brain, or other vital organs, resulting in organ failure)
- Coma (often the result of decreased blood flow to the brain)
- Shock (can cause a failure of blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs, resulting in organ function failure)
- Electrolyte abnormalities, which can cause muscle weakness and cardiac arrhythmias
Dehydration itself, or any of the above complications, can be fatal. If staff members catch and treat the dehydration immediately, it is often reversible with few or no lingering consequences. When a resident is dehydrated at a nursing home, the nursing home should carefully examine all the residents for the purpose of finding and treating everyone who is suffering from dehydration.
It must also determine exactly why the resident became dehydrated to ensure it does not happen again.
What are the signs of elderly dehydration?
In a case of mild dehydration, an elderly person might be extremely thirsty, dizzy, and complain of having a dry mouth. The resident might also develop mouth sores, fever, or have pale, dry skin.
Urination may also become less frequent. At this point, nursing home staff should immediately provide fluids with electrolytes. Staff members should also carefully monitor all fluid intake thereafter.
If the elderly resident’s dehydration worsens, these signs of danger may be present:
- Mental status changes, such as disorientation, foggy thinking, crankiness, hallucination, or delirium
- Rapid breathing
- A drop in blood pressure
- The inability to sweat
At this point, it is a medical emergency requiring intravenous (IV) fluids, and possible hospitalization and observation. Once the resident stabilizes and rehydrates, staff should continue to monitor their fluid intake. The nursing home should determine how the resident became dehydrated, and set into motion a care plan that will prevent dehydration in the future.
How can elder dehydration happen at a nursing home?
One would think that in a residential facility staffed with multiple medical personnel, something as basic as simple hydration would be a guarantee. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Dehydration of the elderly in nursing homes is sadly commonplace.
Dehydration in nursing homes might stem from any of the following:
- inadequate staffing
- inadequate supervision of staff
- residents with difficulty speaking, or with language barriers
- residents with difficulty swallowing
- residents with cognitive issues
- failure of staff to assist residents who need help at mealtimes
- lack of family or friends present at assist residents who need help at mealtimes
- staff members’ ignorance of the signs of dehydration
- staff members’ ignorance of the seriousness of dehydration
- illnesses of residents, especially illnesses that cause vomiting or diarrhea
- medications that have a diuretic effect
- medications that cause increased sweating
- decreased sense of thirst in some elderly residents
Some residents of nursing homes are not able to voice their need for help with eating and drinking, or to let nursing home staff know that they are thirsty. Others do not want to be a bother. And some residents do not understand how dangerous it is to become dehydrated.
Can the nursing home be liable when an elderly resident becomes dehydrated?
If a resident suffers harm from dehydration, the nursing home can be liable. The nursing home has a specific duty of care toward each of its residents. This duty includes ensuring that each resident receives proper nutrition and hydration. The duty also includes having staff who have received proper training to recognize the signs of dehydration. Nursing home staff members have a duty to take action when they see that one of the residents has a medical issue.
If staff members do not perform these functions, the nursing home has breached its duty and can be liable for any damage that occurs.
What can I do if my loved one suffered harm from dehydration at a nursing home?
Dehydration occurs very often at nursing homes. Many nursing home residents suffer harm every year from dehydration and its serious complications. If your loved one suffered harm from dehydration, call a lawyer to discuss your options for recovering compensation.
Taking on a nursing home and its insurer can be a difficult task, but you are not alone. The nursing home abuse attorneys at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. will perform an investigation and gather whatever evidence is necessary to prove your case. Call us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today: 419-843-6663.