Dehydration / Malnutrition

Optimal health revolves around nutrition and hydration. To sustain good health, or to recover from poor health or injury, the human body requires good nutrition and adequate hydration. Ensuring that a loved one receives proper meals and is monitored consuming food and drink is probably the number one reason why individuals and families choose nursing homes and assisted living facilities. A failure to do so can expose the nursing home to a lawsuit from a lawyer experienced in nursing home dehydration and malnutrition cases.

While good nutrition is needed for good health, the converse is true. Poor nutrition, or inadequate hydration, can cause sickness, injury, and death. We have seen this happen many times in our practice here at Southern California Nursing Home Law Group and our nursing home malnutrition and dehydration lawyers have deep experience in handling these cases.

Some studies suggest that at least one-third of all nursing home residents in California suffer from malnutrition and/or dehydration. There are many causes of malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes, but most are caused by underlying illness, such as infection, heart failure, drug effects, and kidney disease. On too many occasions, it is simply the failure of staff to deliver meals and make sure that the resident is consuming the food and drink as required by the resident's care plan.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Malnutrition and/or Dehydration?

A resident is not receiving adequate food or water will exhibit signs and symptoms that should be fairly easy to spot. Here are a few to look out for.

  • Weight loss: If you notice that resident looks thin, or cloths do not fit properly.
  • Cracked lips: A person who is malnourished will often have cracked lips, or have difficulty speaking due to a dry mouth.
  • Thirsty: Seems obvious, but if the resident is cognitive and oriented, he or she might be able to express their hunger or thirst.
  • Skin Sores: A person without adequate nutrition is prone to get skin wounds such as bedsores and pressure ulcers. In fact, this is the main cause of decubitus ulcers in nursing home residents.
  • Weakness/Fatigue: Generalized weakness or fatigue can be the result of a failure to obtain adequate nutrition or fluids.
What Should You do if You Suspect Malnutrition or Dehydration?
  • Inform Staff: If you have noticed the signs and symptoms of malnutrition or dehydration, let the staff know. It's the staff who is responsible for feeding the resident and they should be able to provide proof that resident has (or has not) been eating or drinking.
  • Ask for a conference: As the staff, preferably the Administrator or the Director of Nursing for a care planning conference. At this conference the staff and bring the resident's medical file and examine the nourishment needs and whether the plan needs to be changed.
  • Complain: If you feel like your questions are not being answered, complain to the Administrator or anyone else who will listen. You can also complain the Ombudsman, whose telephone number should be prominently displayed at the front desk. In the nursing home and assisted living environment, the squeaky wheel often gets the grease.

At Southern California Nursing Home Law Group we have handled many nursing home neglect cases where malnutrition or dehydration were significant contributing factors to a residents unexpected illness or death. In each case the malnutrition was diagnosed at the hospital, usually in the emergency room, after a resident was rushed there in serious condition. If you have a loved one who you believe became malnourished or dehydration because of inattentive or negligent caregivers, we would be interested in hearing your story. Our malnutrition and dehydration attorneys know the medical foundations required to be successful in these cases, and we never charge a fee to discuss a case and can let you know whether there is a viable case of elder neglect under California law.

Call anytime toll free at (866) 607-1325 or fill out our online questionnaire.

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