May 2012 Archives

Dehydration is a serious medical condition that occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in.  Dehydration is common 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.  Many medications, including blood pressure medication, anti-depressants and laxatives, also cause dehydration. 

Dehydration often goes undiagnosed and untreated in elderly 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.   

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.  Fortunately, 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.

Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect attorneys 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.

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