Numerous studies have shown that a high percentage of nursing home residents are in a constant state of dehydration. For this reason, federal and state laws now make it the responsibility of every nursing home to provide the right amount of food and fluids to each resident so as to avoid dehydration. There are steps that nursing homes can take to aid in avoiding diagnoses of dehydration, including running the necessary risk assessments on both a scheduled and as-needed basis.
Dehydration and Resident Assessment Protocols
The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) states that nursing homes must perform a federally mandated Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) to aid in preventing malnutrition and dehydration. As part of the RAI, nursing home staff must run resident assessment protocols (RAPs) on every resident on at least a quarterly basis. These RAPs review the following hydration deficiencies:
- Ability to eat on one’s own
- Failure to eat or take medications
- Diminished cognitive status
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Recent weight loss
- Not consuming enough liquids
- Taking a diuretic
- Usage of feeding or IV tubes
Any one of these deficiencies should trigger further assessments as to a patient’s hydration status. A deficiency should also require immediate implementation of closer examination of that patient’s daily fluid input and urine output. Finally, the staff should document any concerns about dehydration in the patient’s individualized care plan, along with steps they can implement on a daily basis to prevent a diagnosis of dehydration.
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Poor Staffing Can Lead to Higher Risk of Dehydration
All too often, nursing homes fail to administer these assessments and provide for individualized care due to lack of enough staff, or lack of qualified staff. For instance, without the right professionals on hand, including nurses and nutritional experts, residents reach critical levels of dehydration without anyone noticing the early warning signs. Additionally, even if there are qualified staff members in the home, they can only help so many people during any given shift. This failure to properly staff can lead to higher rates of dehydration. Untreated or unrecognized dehydration can then lead to serious illnesses, infections and even death.
You Can Help Protect Your Loved One
If you notice that your loved one is presenting with any one of these warning signs or triggers, speak to his or her care providers immediately. Raise your concerns about dehydration and malnutrition and request immediate action to resolve the situation. If you notice your loved one is not getting the attention and medical care required, contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect law firm.
Contact us at (847) 869-9100 to make arrangements to discuss your case with our attorney today.