According to the Journals of Gerontology, most nursing home patients experience occasional weight fluctuations month-to-month. However, typical weight fluctuations in one study of nursing home patients were no greater than 5% between months. The study concluded that “a weight loss of ≥5% in any month has important prognostic implications.”
From the same source, a typical rule of thumb for any concerning weight loss in a nursing home resident is a weight loss of 10% or more, and between 10 and 15 percent of nursing home residents meet these criteria per year. There are many different factors that can lead to sudden changes in weight, hair, and general well-being. If your loved one’s health condition seems to have changed rapidly while in a nursing home, you may want to seek help from a lawyer. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to work with a San Francisco rapid weight loss or hair loss lawyer now.
Changes in Weight and Hair Loss in Nursing Home Residents
Sudden changes in weight and hair loss can be alarming for anyone, but is especially concerning for vulnerable populations like nursing home residents. According to the Mayo Clinic, hair loss “can be the result of heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or a normal part of aging.” It can range in symptoms from gradual thinning, to patchy bald spots, loosening of hair follicles, body hair loss, or patches over the scalp.
The Mayo Clinic points to these risk factors for an increased risk of hair loss in nursing home residents:
- Family history of hair loss or balding on your mother or father’s side
- “Significant weight loss”
- Some medical conditions, like diabetes or lupus
- Increased stress
- Poor nutrition
You may be concerned about your loved one’s well-being if they are otherwise healthy but losing hair. It could be a sign of something more serious, like poor nutrition due to not eating, or neglect or abuse from nursing home staff.
Nursing Home Nutrition Requirements
Federal law regulates nutrition requirements for nursing home residents in 42 CFR § 483.60. Nutrition must be individualized for each nursing home resident, so that each facility funded in part by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides a “nourishing, palatable, well-balanced diet that meets his or her daily nutritional and special dietary needs, taking into consideration the preferences of each resident.”
Essentially, a licensed dietitian must provide nursing home staff with the consulting services needed for the well-being of every nursing home resident. In addition, nursing homes must provide all necessary personnel to make sure that the dietician’s protocols are followed, to ensure that each resident’s individual nutrition needs are met. Food and drink must “conserve nutritive value, flavor, and appearance,” and be “palatable, attractive, and at a safe and appetizing temperature.”
Additionally, nursing home nutrition requirements stipulate that residents must receive substantial meal choices at least 3 times per day, with “no more than 14 hours between a substantial evening meal and breakfast the following day.” If your loved one suffers from symptoms that indicate they may be under additional stress, or are not eating properly, a lawyer can help you protect their rights.
Legal Options for Rapid Weight Loss
Our lawyers will follow state and federal laws to protect your loved one’s rights. In California, you may be eligible to pursue any of the following types of claims:
- Personal Injury: Personal injury cases hold liable parties accountable for their actions that are related to the pain, suffering, and financial losses of another person. To defend your loved one’s rights, you can pursue a case against a nursing home and its staff, including licensed medical professionals and non-medical staffers, or anyone working with the nursing home who failed to report negligence or abuse. A personal injury claim is not always elevated to a courtroom case. It may be settled outside of court with a compensatory damages amount. This compensation can cover all medical expenses related to the abuse or neglect that caused your loved one’s weight loss or hair loss. In California, you have 2 years from the date of the injury to pursue a personal injury case.
- Breach of Contract: In alignment with the Federal Government’s Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, California nursing homes are required to follow federal guidelines for nursing home care. In addition, most nursing homes are required to provide nursing home residents and their loved ones with written contracts to agree on the best options for their physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. If your loved one suffers from unexpected weight loss or hair loss, it could be a sign that greater abuse is going on and the contract has been broken. You can pursue a breach of contract case for a written contract in California up to 4 years from the date it was broken.
- Medical Malpractice: Licensed medical professionals are obligated to provide the best care for your loved one, in addition to reporting any signs of neglect or abuse. When you pursue a medical malpractice case, you must prove a patient-doctor relationship, and the bad faith of any of the acting medical professionals directly involved with your loved one’s care. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in California varies between 1 and 3 years.
The list above that describes the different types of legal claims you may have in a case of rapid weight loss or hair loss will vary, so you should not consider it exhaustive of all your legal options. Discussing your unique case with a lawyer can help you understand all your options, and exactly what is needed to pursue a case.
For a free legal consultation with an rapid weight loss or hair loss lawyer serving San Francisco, call (800) 794-0444
Protect Your Loved One’s Rights Now
The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are eager to defend your rights against negligent nursing homes. Your loved one is entitled to quality care that enhances their well-being, not care that destroys it. Get legal help from a San Francisco rapid weight loss or hair loss lawyer by calling our offices today.