Nursing homes have a legal obligation to maintain proper nutrition and hydration in their residents. This means that each resident should get adequate amounts of the calories, fluids, protein, vitamins, and minerals that he or she needs to maintain good health. While this can sometimes be a challenge, failure to do so can lead to serious injury, illness, and even death.
Malnutrition and dehydration lead to a weakened immune system, weak muscles, disorientation, and confusion, and can exacerbate bed sores. It can also make a resident more susceptible to infection. If you or a loved one resides in a nursing home and has suffered from malnutrition or dehydration, we strongly urge you to consult with an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney as soon as possible.
Common Causes of Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes
The following list contains some of the more common causes of malnutrition and dehydration specific to nursing home residents.
- Placing food and water outside the reach of immobile patients defies common sense; however, we have received numerous calls from family members who report that nursing home employees are leaving the meal trays and water out of the reach of their loved ones. They report the food is then picked up an hour later and thrown away or sometimes eaten by the employee. Families have reported that when they asked the employee about leaving food out of reach of their loved one, the employee would report that they did not know the resident was unable to reach the food.
- Drug side effects – Several medications cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and other side effects that can lead to dehydration and diminished appetite.
- Drug and food interactions – Many kinds of drugs diminish the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, while not necessarily affecting appetite.
- Illness and other health problems – Countless short and long-term illnesses can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.
- Depression – A common symptom of depression is a loss of appetite. Many anti-depressant medications contribute to loss of appetite.
Competent, educated nursing home staff should know which residents are at risk for dehydration and malnutrition. They should also know how to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that each resident is properly fed and hydrated regardless of any of the aforementioned causes. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
If you or a loved one reside in a nursing home in the Phoenix area and have suffered due to malnutrition or dehydration, please contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Cullan & Cullan today to schedule a confidential consultation.