Malnutrition and Dehydration
Though malnutrition and dehydration may stem from medicinal side effects, dental problems, or physical disabilities, these conditions can, in some cases, result from a nursing home’s negligence. When a facility is understaffed or provides inadequate training, its workers may lack the ability or means to properly monitor the eating and drinking habits of their residents--many of whom require assistance with these tasks.
Federal and Florida state laws were enacted to help ensure nursing homes adhere to certain standards of care to protect their residents from malnutrition and dehydration, and any other harm caused by a facility’s negligence. When a nursing home fails to meet these requirements, and a resident is injured as a result, the facility may be liable for any resulting damages.
If a loved one has suffered from malnutrition or dehydration in a nursing home, you may have legal recourse. To find out how our attorneys may be able to assist you through this difficult period of your life, please fill out our no charge case review form.
How Nursing Home Negligence Can Lead to Malnutrition or Dehydration?
Nursing homes must provide healthy food, water, and any other medically necessary liquids to their residents. Additionally, their workers must be trained to anticipate when a resident is at risk for dehydrated and/or malnourished. A nursing home and/or its employees may be considered negligent if they fail to:
- Provide food and water and ensure that it is consumed on a regular basis;
- Ensure every resident is fed with food consisting of essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins;
- Provide proper supervision during meal and snack times;
- Provide appropriate staff to sufficiently feed and monitor residents;
- Adequately attend to residents who require assistance to eat or drink;
- Properly educate staff on nutrition and feeding methods;
- Monitor any problems the resident may have in chewing and swallowing;
- Socially engage residents, possibly leading to a disinterest in eating or cooking;
- Monitor and properly treat a resident abusing drugs or alcohol, which can cause severe digestion issues;
- Remain vigilant and aware of signs of dehydration;
- Properly monitor residents’ dietary restrictions prescribed by a doctor;
- Properly monitor a resident’s medications, which may have side effects increasing the likelihood of malnutrition or dehydration.
- Recommend fluids during and in between meal times;
- Immediately notify a doctor if they believe a resident may become or is dehydrated;
- Regularly record a resident’s IV fluid replacement;
- Monitor a residents mood to ensure depression is not inhibiting their appetite; or
- Measure and record the resident’s food and water consumption.
These oversights may occur for a number of reasons, including understaffing or high nurse aide turnover rates.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you suspect a loved one is suffering from malnutrition and/or dehydration—or any other form of abuse or neglect—contact a Florida nursing home abuse lawyer immediately. Florida only allows a certain amount of time in which a nursing home abuse lawsuit can be filed. Failure to file within this time frame can bar you from ever taking legal action for your loved one’s suffering. It is also important to report the abuse quickly, as malnutrition and dehydration can aggravate existing health complications and result in a rapid decline in the patient’s health and well-being.
If neglect is suspected, our lawyers will interview doctors, nurses, former staff, and other residents to determine which actions or oversights on part of the staff may have led to dehydration or malnutrition in your loved one. The attorneys at Morgan & Morgan will work diligently to determine the cause of any negligent care, and help recover any damages for injuries that may have resulted.
Signs of Malnutrition and Dehydration in Florida Nursing Homes
Unfortunately, signs of dehydration and malnutrition can be difficult to recognize. A nursing home resident may be malnourished if they display any of the following symptoms:
- Severe, rapid, unplanned weight loss
- Poorly healing wounds
- Very easy bruising
- Dental problems
- Making excuses not to eat during or be a part of meal times
- Red, inflamed eyes
- Inability to answer simple questions
- Sudden memory problems
- Yellowing of the skin
- Muscle twitches and loss of muscle mass
- Infections or canker sores in the mouth
- Signs of dehydration may include:
- Extreme thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Dry or ashy skin
- Dark-colored urine
- Feeling faint, dizzy, or light-headed
- Facial skin feeling flushed and red
- Labored breathing
If you believe your loved one is suffering from malnutrition and/or dehydration in a nursing home, and their health is declining as a result, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your losses. To learn more about how our experienced attorneys can assist you, please fill out our no charge case review form.