South Carolina Malnutrition and Dehydration Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers
Charleston, South Carolina Elder Care Attorneys Fight Nursing Home Neglect
Placing a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision. The family might research nursing homes by reading online reviews, hearing recommendations from others they trust, and planning a facility tour. They may also check out the state’s most recent ratings and citations of the nursing homes they are considering.
Nursing home residents face many health risks, including malnutrition and dehydration. At the Steinberg Law Firm, our South Carolina nursing home negligence attorneys help residents and their families hold negligent nursing homes accountable for their actions and lack of care.
Signs of Malnutrition and Dehydration
Nursing home residents deprived of food or water immediately show symptoms of malnutrition or dehydration. Family members who see their loved one occasionally should look out for changes in their appearance or condition. Some of the most common symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition are:
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Lack of appetite;
- Water retention;
- Frequently feeling cold;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Distended stomach;
- More frequent infections; and
- Constipation or diarrhea.
Family members with residents in a South Carolina nursing home should be vigilant regarding the signs and symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition. They should take immediate action when their loved one appears to have been neglected by staff.
How Common Is Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes?
Providing food and water to residents is one of the most fundamental duties a nursing home owes to its residents. Nursing home facilities may be held accountable if staff members fail to provide essential care services. Nursing homes can face backlash if a resident is found malnourished or dehydrated and no action is taken to alleviate the situation. If a neglected resident falls while walking and gets hospitalized for an injury, medical professionals can evaluate the individual and determine if they are malnourished, dehydrated, or both. In these cases, a nursing home resident or their loved ones may file a nursing home neglect claim.
According to a study from 2015, a shocking twenty percent of nursing home residents experienced malnutrition. Since the study did not define “malnourished,” researchers noted that the figure could be as high as sixty-six percent. Another study found that nursing home residents’ daily fluid intake was grossly inadequate in that ninety-seven percent of all residents who participated in the study consumed less than fifty ounces of water per day.
Often, seniors with memory or cognitive issues may not recognize when they are hungry or thirsty. Nursing home residents rely entirely on their caregivers to provide their daily nutrition and hydration since they cannot independently get food or water on their own due. Typical reasons a senior would need help are because they are bedridden, need access to a walker, or need help in a wheelchair.
How Much Food Do Nursing Home Residents Need to Stay Healthy?
Residents of a nursing home must consume a certain daily amount of food and water to stay healthy. The federal government provides guidelines that nursing home facilities must follow when creating a resident’s meal plan. Under 42 CFR § 483.60, a facility must give its residents a nourishing and balanced diet that meets the daily recommended nutritional needs. Additionally, a nursing home’s menu:
- Must be prepared in advance to give residents an idea of what is on the menu;
- Must reflect the religious, cultural, and ethnic needs of the resident population;
- Must be followed once established;
- Must be updated periodically; and
- The facility’s dietician must regularly review it to ensure it meets the residents’ needs.
Nursing homes must also provide alternative meals for residents who require a specialized diet due to their medical conditions. A resident who needs a therapeutic diet must have their diet created and reviewed by an attending physician. For meal frequencies, residents must receive at least three meals daily, consistent with typical mealtimes. A nursing home cannot allow a resident to go more than fourteen hours without a meal.
Dehydration and Malnourishment Are Frequently Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Indeed, there are situations where abusive nursing home staff members intentionally deprive a resident of food and water. However, most South Carolina nursing homes do not deliberately withhold food or water. Nursing homes often do not knowingly allow a resident to become dehydrated or malnourished. Instead, residents often experience dehydration or malnourishment due to cost-saving measures, such as cutting back on the number of staff members who provide care. Nursing homes look for ways to save money because each unspent dollar stays with the facility.
Many care facilities are for-profit, and food and staff can be two large-budget items. Reducing the quality and quantity of food to residents or providing food with empty calories and low nutritional value is often less expensive. Staff reductions or understatement results in a large resident-nursing home staff member ratio, meaning residents may not receive excellent attention and care.
Can a Nursing Home Be Liable for a Resident’s Dehydration or Malnutrition?
Yes, nursing homes that neglect the dietary needs of a resident may be held financially liable for any resulting injuries to a resident through a nursing home neglect lawsuit. These lawsuits are a type of personal injury case in which a resident or their loved one seeks monetary compensation for the nursing home’s failings and their impact on the resident’s life.
For many nursing home residents, a healthy diet is the first defense against other health conditions. When residents do not intake proper nutrients and hydration, their health will deteriorate quickly. If a resident stops eating or has trouble eating, and their change in behavior goes unnoticed, it can often be too late to remedy the situation. A resident may need to be rushed to the emergency room to treat their injuries potentially, but they can pass away due to their advanced age and poor health condition.
By speaking with our experienced team of nursing home neglect attorneys, we can help identify the critical moments when a nursing home staff member wrongly neglects a loved one. Through thorough investigation from initial intake, discovery, and preparation for mediation or trial, our team is here to help you obtain the justice your loved one deserves.
Injuries Stemming from Malnutrition and Dehydration
Those who have loved ones in nursing homes know that one of a resident’s health plan’s primary goals is maintaining a healthy weight. Residents who suffer from malnutrition and dehydration tend to lose weight, particularly muscle mass. Because of this, a resident is at high risk of falling, leading to broken bones, head injuries, hip fractures, and other bodily injuries.
Undernourished and underhydrated residents may experience cognitive issues, such as confusion or memory loss, resulting in a resident acting erratically and engaging in unexpected—and potentially dangerous—behavior. Also, intaking a low amount of food and water increases a resident’s risk of infection. This is especially concerning for nursing home residents with a high risk of contracting other diseases.
Malnourished residents may have a much longer road to recovery, as their body’s ability to heal is significantly compromised. No one should have to go through this alone, which is why hiring a nursing home neglect attorney is critical in securing a treatment plan for an injured resident.
Are You Concerned About the Health of a Loved One at a South Carolina Nursing Home?
If you have a family member at a South Carolina nursing home and are worried about whether their health is suffering from malnutrition or dehydration, reach out to the Steinberg Law Firm. At the Steinberg Law Firm, we have 95 years of experience helping our clients pursue justice against those who wronged them.
We can help you understand your rights and effectively prepare a case to hold the negligent nursing home accountable for your loved one’s deteriorating condition. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with a Charleston nursing home neglect lawyer today, call (843) 720-2800. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.
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