Dehydration and Neglect in Nursing Homes

Dehydration is a common sign of nursing home neglect. It should be obvious that elderly residents in long-term care facilities may need help ensuring that they are properly hydrated on a daily basis. Their own physical infirmities or cognitive challenges may make it difficult for them to ensure their own nutritional well-being.

Yet, time and again, seniors suffer serious injury or death as a result of complications from dehydration. In the aftermath, nursing home neglect lawsuits are often filed, seeking to hold the facility accountable for its improper conduct.

A critical component in these lawsuits is proving the injury. Nursing homes often defend themselves by suggesting that the adverse outcome for the resident was not caused by neglect but by some other ailments plaguing the senior for which the facility was not responsible. This is always an available defense because seniors in long-term care facilities would not be there if they did not have some medical problems. For this reason, it is important to properly document one’s medical condition to ensure that proof of dehydration is available if necessary for a settlement or trial.

So in the case of dehydration, how does one show that a resident actually was dehydrated while at the facility?

In most cases, dehydration will be documented by a doctor at a hospital after a senior is brought there from the nursing home following a serious medical problem. As discussed by professionals at the Mayo Clinic, there are three main ways to diagnose dehydration.

  • Visual Diagnosis: Doctors are often well-versed in dehydration and can identify the problem immediately upon examining the patient and learning of their symptoms. The most common visual indicators of dehydration are a lack of urination, lack of skin elasticity, sunken eyes, increased heart rate, blood flow problems, and low blood pressure.
  • Blood Test: A more formal diagnosis can be obtained via a blood test. Doctors can check electrolyte levels and kidney function via the blood to determine if hydration is lacking.
  • Urinalysis: Similarly, examination of urine can show fluid levels in the body

Doctors making these determinations will also take an individual’s age into account. That is because it is well-documented that older adults are more susceptible to dehydration. The heightened risk is a product of the aging body’s waning ability to conserve water, weakened response to temperature changes, and less acute thirst sense.

Medical records always prove critical in nursing home neglect cases. That is certainly true in cases where dehydration is at issue. Reports of dehydration by medical professionals in the aftermath of hospitalization are frequently used in lawsuits proving neglect. Those reports can take the form of visual indicators listed by the doctor or formal test results.

Nursing Home Dehydration Lawsuits

Ensuring proper hydration and nutrition are foundational elements of adequate caregiving in nursing homes. If someone that you know was harmed by dehydration complications after a stay in a long-term care facility, then it is critical to demand accountability and redress. For help on these matters in Chicago and surrounding suburbs, please contact Robert Rooth today at (847) 869-9100.

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