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Dehydration

Dehydration is a symptom of Nursing Home Neglect

Dehydration is a growing problem among nursing home residents.  Dehydration and malnutrition are the most common ailments resulting from elder neglect.

A resident can become dehydrated when he or she is not given enough fluids and, as a result, is unable to perform normal body functions.  When one is dehydrated, her body has lost too much fluids and electrolytes.  While dehydration in general is harmful, it is especially so among the elderly as they are more susceptible to contracting urinary tract infections, pneumonia and bed sores.

Dehydration can also lead to a condition called hypernatremia.  Hypernatremia is an electrolyte problem characterized by a decrease in total body water relative to the body’s total sodium levels.  It is caused when the total water intake is less than the total water loss or when a person receives inadequate water intake.  In critical cases, hypernatremia can lead to organ failure.

How to Treat Dehydration

The best way to treat dehydration is to prevent it from occurring, so caregivers must be diligent in administering proper amounts of fluid to their patients.  Once the patient is already dehydrated, however, it is important to maintain electrolyte levels.  Drinking broth or soup which contains sodium or sports drinks such as Gatorade that contains electrolytes can help.  In extreme cases where the patient experiences dizziness, confusion or fatigue, it is best to make sure he or she receives proper medical care.  If the patient suffers from hypernatremia, he or she should see a medical physician immediately to asses treatment options.

Lastly, contact your local ombudsman.  You can call their Crisis line at 1-800-231-4024 or visit the California Department of Aging website for a list of county ombudsman phone numbers in California.

What Causes Dehydration?

Dehydration is caused when the patient does not receive adequate amounts of fluid, and is often a result of nursing home neglect or negligence.  Some drugs act as a diuretic and it is the nursing home’s responsibility to know when medications act as a diuretic to ensure that the patient receives additional fluid intake.  Many times, nursing home employees do not properly administer fluids to their patients.  Also, nursing home staff may give their patients water but leave it out of the reach of their patients or rely on the patient to drink the water him or herself when the elder may be incapable of doing so.  They can also create situations which increases the risk of dehydrating the patient, such as exposing the older individual to hot temperatures or not identifying drugs that act a diuretic.

Dehydration can also be caused by excessive fluid losses due to illness, or even side effects from medication.  Diarrhea is the most common cause of dehydration, and vomiting also leads to loss of fluids.  If the patient does not replenish the fluids lost, he or she can suffer the above described medical complications.

Contact York Law Firm

If your loved one is a nursing home resident who has suffered injury as a result of dehydration, contact one of our many experienced elder abuse attorney to determine whether you are entitled to recovery.  We invite you to contact our practice or fill out a free case evaluation to determine the strength of your potential case.

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