How to Sue a Nursing Home for Dehydration and Malnutrition

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When we place an elderly loved one in a nursing home, we anticipate that the caregivers and staff will treat them with the compassionate care and dignity promised in their glossy brochures. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect are dishearteningly common problems in facilities around the country. When caregivers in a nursing home fail to provide basic care, including life-sustaining hydration and nutrition, vulnerable elderly residents suffer sharp declines in their quality of life, and sometimes illness and death. A recent comprehensive study of 40 nursing homes revealed that nearly all residents in all 40 facilities were suffering from various levels of dehydration. Malnutrition is also a common health concern in elderly nursing home residents.

What are the Effects of Dehydration In Elderly Nursing Home Residents?

Staff shortages, poor hiring protocols, and lack of training result in malnutrition and chronic dehydration in nursing home residents. Because the elderly have lower sensitivity to thirst and may have cognitive issues that leave them incapable of communicating their symptoms, visiting family members may not realize their elderly loved one is suffering from dehydration. Signs to watch for include, dry, shriveled skin, confusion, difficulty with speech, dry mouth and lips, sunken eyes, lethargy, and rapid heart rate. When dehydration becomes severe, the resident may have low blood pressure, seizures, coma, and death. Chronic kidney and urinary tract infections are also signs of dehydration.

Dehydration seriously compromises a senior citizen’s quality of life, health, and well-being. If left untreated, dehydration leads to death.

Malnutrition also occurs in nursing home residents, leading to increased frailty and sensitivity to infections. Malnutrition causes fatigue, balance problems, and weakness. It also makes residents more prone to inactivity and bed rest which significantly impacts their quality of life.

How Does a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home for Dehydration and Malnutrition Work?

If you suspect an elderly nursing home resident suffers from malnutrition and dehydration, it’s important to request a complete medical assessment at a hospital or by a doctor unassociated with the nursing home. Bloodwork and other medical tests provide critical evidence that helps prove nursing home negligence.

Nursing homes owe a duty of care toward their residents. Proving that they breached this duty of care is the key to a successful nursing home neglect claim. Typically, claims are made against the nursing home administration’s liability insurance. A Louisville personal injury attorney with experience in nursing home abuse and neglect cases will examine the evidence to show the following proof of liability:

  • The nursing home owed a duty of care to the resident as provided in their contract
  • They breached their duty by acting negligently in the resident’s care
  • Their breach of duty directly caused injury to the resident
  • The resident suffered damages from the abuse, including economic damages like medical costs, and physical damages from pain and suffering and diminished quality of life

If your elderly loved one died from dehydration, malnutrition, or related complications, close family members can recover compensation for funeral costs and other damages in a wrongful death claim.

In a small percentage of cases, the insurance company disputes the claim or fails to offer an acceptable settlement. In these cases, the attorney assists in filing a lawsuit and arguing the case in court. A lawsuit takes longer than a settlement, but jury awards for damages are often larger than a settlement.

If your elderly loved one has suffered from dehydration, malnutrition, or related neglect in a nursing home, take action now. Contact a compassionate and experienced Louisville nursing home abuse lawyer at Gray & White Law to pursue justice for your loved one. A successful claim or lawsuit against a negligent nursing home helps the elderly victim and their loved ones to achieve a sense of justice and accountability as well as financial compensation.