Proving Dehydration in a Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse Case

Friday, October 12, 2018

Proving Dehydration in a Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse Case

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Nursing homes are required by state and federal laws to provide their patients with a specific level of care. That care includes basic necessities like food, water, and hygiene.

Dehydration in a nursing home resident often indicates nursing home neglect or abuse.

If you suspect that your loved one has been deprived or that they suffer from dehydration, you must educate yourself about what causes this condition and whether it is a case of neglect and abuse.

Understanding the Issue of Dehydration in Chicago Nursing Homes – Is It Abuse or Neglect?

The human body needs hydration, and nursing home residents should receive proper nutrition and hydration so that they can maintain the right level of health. Nursing home residents typically have a higher hydration requirement, because the medications they take could result in medical conditions that demand more fluids.

Sometimes, a nursing home resident’s physical or mental condition makes it hard for them to monitor their water intake, which is why nursing home staff should do it for them. When you pay for a nursing home to care for your loved one, they are obligated to maintain their health – that includes giving them access to water or using intravenous supplements to ensure hydration.

Can You Sue for Dehydration?

A resident who suffers from dehydration could encounter a serious medical condition or die from it. Nursing homes are responsible for maintaining resident hydration. Therefore, family members may consider holding that nursing home accountable if their family member becomes ill or dies from dehydration.

Cases for dehydration, which are typically classified as neglect, require that family members establish four primary elements. These elements show that the nursing home owed a duty of care and breached the duty of care that ultimately led to the patients’ injuries or death.

Determining a required level of care comes down to the state and federal expectations of that nursing home and the attention that the individual would have received if another facility treated them.

The Elements Required for Proving Dehydration in a Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Claim

If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect, the next step would be to prove that you have a valid claim against the facility.

This starts by proving the four elements:

1. The Nursing Home Owed a Duty of Care

First, you must show that the nursing home owed your loved one a duty of care and that they were legally obligated to fulfill those duties stemming from state and federal laws along with their contractual obligations.

One duty all nursing homes must comply with is providing nutrition and hydration to their patients – especially those who have an additional need for hydration or cannot monitor their hydration themselves.

2. The Nursing Home Breached Their Duty of Care

Next, you must show that the nursing home breached their duty of care by showing that they did not have the adequate staff count to care for patients, or they have a history of patients suffering from dehydration and other health complications. During discovery, your nursing home neglect attorney will look for records that show how much assistance your loved one received, the visits documented by aides, and water intake monitored by the staff. Then your attorney may be able to demonstrate that nursing home caregivers did not have the time to monitor or administer liquids adequately.

3. Creating a Connection Between the Breach and Injury

The third element is known as causation. Causation is the tie between the breach and the injury or illness. Basically, you must show that the breach of duty was the direct cause of your loved one’s injury or medical complication.

The nursing home might argue that your loved one’s dehydration stems from their medical condition – not a lack of care. Your attorney will counter argue against this by showing that the nursing home’s neglect was the direct cause of their dehydration and associated complications.

Documenting your loved one’s dehydration and using independent medical evaluations should be enough to prove that the nursing home failed to fulfill their obligations to your loved one. Also, documenting symptoms (including skin elasticity, lowered vital signs, and low blood pressure) can help prove that dehydration was present, and the nursing home staff failed to diagnose and treat it.

4. Damages

Even if you have the three elements, you still must show that you or your loved one suffered damages because of the breach of duty. Damages come in numerous forms, but the most common for a nursing home neglect case include:

  • Medical Costs – It is likely your loved one will encounter medical costs as a direct result of their dehydration. These medical costs could consist of everything from hospitalization to IV fluids to medications. They may require long-term care following medical complications from dehydration – only adding to your family’s out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Pain and Suffering – Dehydration is unlikely to be the only type of neglect your loved one received. They could also be malnourished, suffer from bedsores, or have other medical complications as a direct result of this neglect. All of these conditions lead to physical pain, mental anguish, and long-term emotional suffering.
  • Wrongful Deaths – If your loved one passes away due to the horrific conditions provided by their nursing home, you might be entitled to compensation for that death, including compensation for funeral costs, loss of companionship, and more.

What Evidence Do You Need to Prove Your Case?

Proving that dehydration occurred from negligence or abuse is not easy. You should consult with a nursing home abuse attorney first to explore your options, because an attorney can help collect evidence and knows what evidence they need to prove their case. Some of the evidence that might help prove your claim includes:

  • Medical Records: Your loved one’s medical records, especially when they receive treatment for the dehydration, will indicate the level of dehydration at the time of their admittance. It will also discuss their prognosis, complications that resulted from the dehydration, and whether outside factors played a role.
  • Expert Witnesses: Often a physician’s testimony is required to prove negligence or abuse happened. Expert witnesses in these cases are usually physicians who can testify that the victim’s conditions were caused by dehydration, and how medical staff at the nursing home should have recognized the signs of dehydration and corrected it.
  • Nursing Home Records: Nursing home records for the victim and records regarding past inspections and licenses can be used to prove abuse. Histories of complaints, citations for health and safety violations, employment records, and the care file for the victim can also show how a lack of staffing, attention, and inadequate training led to the victim’s illnesses.
  • Witness Testimony: Aside from expert witnesses, your attorney might contact other residents, their family, or employees in the nursing home who will testify to the conditions and how the victim’s dehydration occurred.

Do You Suspect Abuse? Contact an Abuse Attorney Right Away

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from dehydration and you think the dehydration stems from abuse or neglect, contact an abuse attorney immediately to explore your options.

The attorneys at Malman Law understand how stressful and confusing this can be for your entire family. Let us serve as your advocates in your case. We will investigate, collect evidence, and aggressively fight for your right to compensation. Most importantly, we want to ensure this doesn’t happen to another resident in the facility and that your loved one receives the care they should have received from the start.

To get started, schedule a free consultation with one of our nursing home neglect attorneys. Call our office to schedule your appointment or contact us online with your questions.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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