Proving Dehydration In A New Jersey Nursing Home Neglect Case
Dehydration is a common sign of nursing home neglect. According to a recently published study that tested the fluid intake and retention of 40 nursing home residents, nearly all of the patients exhibited symptoms of dehydration. Moreover, of the 40 residents tested, 25 of them had developed a health condition as a result of being dehydrated. Because dehydration impacts so many nursing home residents, it is important to know how and when a nursing home can be held legally responsible for the dehydration and resulting injuries to residents.
How Dehydration Happens in Nursing Homes
Defined simply, dehydration is the loss of water from the body. It occurs when people consume less fluid than what is necessary for the functioning of the body’s cells and organs. Due to advanced age, physical infirmities, cognitive impairments, or any combination thereof, elderly people may not be able to drink water or other fluids on their own. Consequently, nursing home caregivers are responsible for assisting elderly residents drink fluids. If elderly residents cannot be administered fluids orally for some health-related reason, nursing homes should provide intravenous fluid therapy (an “IV”). This is critically important to a resident’s weight, nutrition, skin condition, kidney functioning and other health issues.
Unfortunately, sometimes nursing homes are understaffed or have poor management. This leads to nurses and aides not regularly checking residents’ fluid intake or providing fluid intake care. This leads to dehydration which can even lead to death.
Another reason dehydration may occur is when nursing home residents have undiagnosed health conditions that causes dehydration to occur more frequently than in the average resident. Diabetes is a common undiagnosed health condition that causes dehydration in nursing home residents. Also, when a resident suffers from a diagnosed health condition that requires the use of diuretics or blood pressure medications, dehydration may also result if the resident is not administered the proper amount of fluid and monitored by staff for dehydration related to these needed medications.
If a nursing home resident suffers dehydration while in the care of a nursing home, the nursing home may be held liable for this condition in a New Jersey court if resident, or the resident’s families, files a personal injury claim against the nursing home.
Generally, to prove that residents suffered dehydration because of the nursing home’s actions, residents must prove that the nursing home acted negligently – that the nursing home “deviated from the standard of care”. . To prove that the nursing home acted negligently, they must establish four things: (1) that the nursing home owed them a duty of care; (2) that the nursing home, by acting in a specific manner or by failing to act, breached this duty of care; (3) that the nursing home’s breach of duty caused the dehydration; and (4) they suffered resulting damages.
To establish that the nursing home owed them a duty of care to keep them adequately hydrated, residents may introduce the nursing home contract they entered into when they began their residency at the facility. Usually, this contract will have a clause related to the nursing home’s duty to adequately care for the resident’s physical health, which would include the duty to keep the resident hydrated. Even when there is no such clause in the nursing home contract, residents can establish the nursing home’s duty by citing the nursing home regulations adopted by the New Jersey legislature and the federal government which require nursing homes to ensure the hydration of their residents.
To establish that the nursing home breached its duty of care, residents and their families can use nursing home records and their medical records to show that nursing home employees did not ensure their fluid intake on a frequent basis or did not administer them an adequate amount of fluids in accordance with their specific health conditions.
Medical records, treating doctors and experts hired by an experienced nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer can establish the nursing home’s breach of duty caused dehydration that residents suffered serious harm as a result. If diagnosed as suffering from dehydration, doctors may be able to testify at trial that this is what caused the nursing home resident’s injury, decline and Wrongful Death. This is how the nursing home can be held legally responsible for its misconduct.
Contact a Somerville Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today
Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in New Jersey, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at Sugarman Law, LLC represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Somerville, Marlton, Trenton, and Camden. Call (866) 657-5660 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 80 East Main Street, Somerville, New Jersey 08876, as well as an office in Marlton.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.