Death Secondary to Nursing Home Dehydration / Malnutrition -- Sample Complaint in Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death / Survivorship Lawsuit

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in.  Dehydration occurs frequently in elderly people as a result of physiological changes in the body resulting in loss of protein which holds water, decrease of kidney urine concentrating abilities resulting in frequent urination, and decreasing thirst.  Additionally, many medications, including blood pressure medication, anti-depressants and laxatives, cause dehydration. 

The standard of care for residents in nursing homes requires the nursing home staff to provide each resident with sufficient fluid intake to maintain proper hydration and health.  Nursing homes should develop, implement and (when needed) revise care plans to protect residents from fluid volume deficits and water deprivation.  The potentially fatal consequences of dehydration can be prevented if the nursing home staff takes preventative actions including recording daily food and fluid intake, monitoring body weight on a daily basis and implementing a hydration program that provides water during and between meals.  The nursing home must carefully and thoroughly monitor fluid and nutritional support and initiate appropriate treatment when intake falls below adequate levels.

Elderly dehydration often goes undiagnosed and untreated in nursing home patients.  Fluid volume deficits can have devastating consequences such as causing kidney failure, seizures, swelling of the brain, hypovolemic shock, and increases a resident's susceptibility to urinary tract infections in females.  Ultimately, dehydrated nursing home residents may develop sepsis resulting in death because their ability to fight infections has been compromised.   

Under Maryland law, when a nursing home resident dies as a result of nursing home negligence, two causes of action arise: (1) a wrongful death claim; and (2) a survivorship claim.

A sample Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death/Survivorship Complaint involving claims of nursing home negligence relating to dehydration/malnutrition follows:

COMPLAINT

 Plaintiffs, [insert name], individually and as personal representative of the Estate of [insert name], [insert names of wrongful death beneficiaries], by their attorneys, David L. Feldstein and Dever & Feldstein, LLC, hereby file this Complaint against Defendants, [insert names], and in support thereof state as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

 1.   At all times material to this case, Plaintiffs have been citizens and residents of the State of Maryland.  Plaintiffs [insert names] are the surviving children of the decedent, [insert name].  [Insert names] are wrongful death beneficiaries in this action pursuant to Section 3-904(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 2. [Insert name] is the duly appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name].  The Register of Wills for Baltimore County issued Letters of Administration to [insert name] on [insert date].  The Estate of [insert name] is bringing this survival action pursuant to Section 7-401(x) of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 3. At all times material to this case, [insert Defendants] have been operating nursing homes and engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland, acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
 4. The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, [insert Defendant] has been licensed by the State of Maryland to own and operate nursing homes in Maryland and has held itself and its agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of medical and rehabilitation services, and in such capacity owed a duty to [insert name] and the Plaintiffs to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services. 
6. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all individuals at [insert Defendant] who participated in the care provided to Plaintiff were acting on behalf of [insert Defendant] and within the scope of their employment and/or agency with [insert Defendant] 7. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was admitted to the [insert Defendant] nursing home located at [insert address].  [Insert name] suffered from dementia and Parkinson's disease and required assistance with the activities of daily living. 
8. On or about [insert date], the staff at [insert Defendant] found [insert name] non-responsive with difficulty breathing and called 911.  Emergency medical technicians arrived and intubated [insert name] before transporting her to the emergency room at [insert name] Hospital where she was immediately noted to be cyanotic and cachectic.  An oral exam revealed that [insert name] tongue was "quite dry" and her mouth was filled with dried food and a copious amount of purulent secretions.  [Insert name] was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit and diagnosed with respiratory failure, severe electrolyte imbalances, and metabolic acidosis, all secondary to massive dehydration.  After lengthy discussions with doctors at [insert name], the family elected to discontinue ventilator support and other aggressive therapy.  [Insert name] died on [insert date].  The Death Certificate lists the primary cause of death as dehydration of 10 days duration.

COUNT I (Professional Negligence)

  9. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
 10. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed Plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of her.
 11. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to Plaintiff, thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:

(a) failed to provide [insert name] with adequate fluids and nutrition, resulting in prolonged and massive dehydration and cachexia, severe electrolyte imbalances, metabolic acidosis, multi-organ failure, and ultimately, death;
(b) failed to timely and properly diagnose and treat [insert name]'s dehydration and related complications; 
(c) failed to provide [insert name] with necessary medical monitoring, care and treatment; and
(d) were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.

 12. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name] was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to her body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering, and, ultimately, death.
 13. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name], among other things, was forced to undergo medical procedures and treatment, and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical, hospital and other care and treatment and was precluded from engaging in her normal and usual pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
 14. Had Defendants followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, [insert name] would not have suffered the above-identified injuries, damages and death.
 15. The injuries herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendants, with no negligence on the part of [insert name] contributing thereto.

 WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

COUNT II (Wrongful Death)

 16. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
 17. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' above-described negligence in causing the death of the Plaintiff, [insert wrongful death beneficiaries] have sustained, among other things, pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of protection, loss of parental care, loss of filial care, loss of attention, loss of advice, loss of counsel, loss of guidance and loss of education. 

 WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

*  *  *

Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of dehydration/malnutrition, bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), nursing home falls, medication error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://www.marylandnursinghomelawyer.net/mt/mt-tb.cgi/16

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Feldstein published on August 26, 2009 7:58 AM.

Death Secondary to Nursing Home Bed Sores / Pressure Sores / Decubitus Ulcers -- Sample Complaint in Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death / Survivorship Lawsuit was the previous entry in this blog.

Death Secondary to Nursing Home Falls -- Sample Complaint in Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death / Survivorship Lawsuit is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.