Dehydration occurs when a person loses more fluids and water than he or she takes into their body. Sounds like a pretty easy concept, right? Well, it is a little bit more complex than that in dealing with patients, particularly nursing home patients.
Some minimum level of diligence is required to ascertain that nursing home victims have not lost fluid in their body in a way that may jeopardize good health. Too many nursing homes fail at this simple requirement of making sure that their residents do not have symptoms of dehydration that could cause serious injury or death.
If you believe that you or a loved one suffered a serious injury, or has died as the result of nursing home neglect, call one of our lawyers at 800-553-8082, or get an online consultation here.Background
Every process in the body relies on water for proper function; in fact, approximately 75 percent of the body's blood vessels and cells contain water. Fluids are constantly lost through sweat, urine, defecation, and breath. It must be replaced via fluid intake.
Dehydration is pandemic in nursing homes. At least 33 percent and up to 85 percent of the country's 1.6 million nursing home residents suffer from dehydration or malnutrition on a yearly basis.
There is no doubt that most dehydration is not life threatening or even particularly dangerous. But when a patient has symptoms consistent with a hydration problem, something has to be done to protect the patient. Because severe dehydration is more likely to be fatal than a heart attack for nursing home patients.
The Nursing Home Mistakes That Cause Dehydration?
The big problem in nursing homes that causes dehydration to get out of control is a lack of individualized care - poor staffing and supervision are cited as the two biggest contributors.
Inconsistent care and inadequate staffing to ensure residents drink enough fluids are directly responsible for many cases of dehydration in nursing homes.
What happens? Poor staffing leads to patients being fed too fast or forcefully without any mind to how much was consumed. If you are not paying attention to how much the patient is getting, it is unlikely that you are going to think to order commercial liquid oral supplements when residents don't eat or drink what they should.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying "Care for your patients." Be mindful of how they are doing. Care about them as individual people. Few nursing homes that are doing this are going to miss signs and symptoms of dehydration even if they have no idea what the signs and symptoms are.Signs of Dehydration
Your loved one may be dehydrated if he or she:
- suffers from headaches;
- complains of thirst;
- has decreased blood pressure;
- is dizzy or faint;
- shows a loss of appetite;
- has an increased heart rate;
- appears confused, fatigued, depressed, or otherwise low-mood state;
- has dry skin, mouth, or hair;
- has decreased urine output;
- has sunken eyes;
- has increased body temperature;
- appears groggy or sleepy;
- has skin that shrivels and wrinkles;
- suffers from seizures;
- is delirious;
- falls into unconsciousness;
- has swelling of the tongue;
- appears lethargic.
There are many possible causes of dehydration in nursing home residents. These include:
- decreased fluid intake
- side effects of medications such as diuretics
- decreased kidney function; swallowing disorders
- inadequately provided tube feedings
- the absence of fresh water available
- failure by staff members to open cartons of juice or milk
- decreased thirst sensation; and
- increased fluid loss due to infections, fever, and diarrhea.
- psychiatric disorders
- a history of dehydration
- four or more chronic conditions
- ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea
- had a recent stroke
- suffer from malnutrition
- repeated infections,
- chronic cognitive impairment
- using anti-depressants, laxatives, diuretics, steroids, or anti-anxiety medications.
Proper hydration levels are key to good health for all of us. The state of dehydration leads to many injuries and other possible complications such as:
- urinary tract infections;
- decubitus ulcers/pressure ulcers/bed sores [Learn More]
- weakness which can lead to falls;
- electrolyte imbalances;
Contacting a Nursing Home Lawyer
If someone you love has injuries from dehydration or another nursing home injury such as bed sores, a broken hip or fall, and you believe the injury or death was caused by nursing home negligence, you might want to discuss your claim with an attorney.
Call our Maryland nursing home attorneys at 800-553-8082. Alternatively, you can get a free Internet consultation to discuss what happened in your case. The consultation is free and, if you become a client, there are no fees or expenses unless a recovery is obtained for you.More Information