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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023