The Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 requires that all nursing homes have a registered nurse at the nursing home eight consecutive hours every day of the week. This law also requires that a licensed nurse remains on duty 24 hours a day. Finally, all nursing homes must have appropriate staffing to ensure the needs of all residents are always attended to, and that they do not suffer any injuries or fatalities as a result of negligence.
Unfortunately, nursing homes remain woefully understaffed, resulting in serious injuries or deaths. If your elderly loved one suffered from dehydration as a result of the failure of the nursing home to provide appropriate staff to meet their residents’ requests for water, you may have the legal right to pursue justice and receive compensation for their injuries. Learn more about how understaffing contributes to the dangerous occurrence of dehydration in nursing home residents.
Why Understaffing Occurs in Nursing Homes
According to Inquiry, understaffing is a common concern throughout nursing homes in the United States and can occur for several reasons. In some cases, nursing home facilities simply do not have the financial resources to ensure that their facility is properly and adequately staffed.
In other cases, the homes will make their employees work extremely long hours, resulting in burnout and fatigue. These employees then perform their jobs negligently due to overexertion, stress, and exhaustion.
Some of these employees will simply quit their jobs after dealing with so much stress, leaving the nursing home with an even worse staffing situation, again placing even more burden on the employees that remained. Workweeks are oftentimes unreasonably long, and this leads to poor decision making, neglect of nursing home residents, or in the worst-case scenarios, directly to the abuse of nursing home residents.
Understaffing Leads to Possible Dehydration
Nursing homes have a duty and responsibility to ensure that their residents receive basic care and supervision. If a nursing home fails to provide appropriate staff to meet the residents’ requests for water, elderly residents may suffer from dehydration as a result. Ways that understaffing can lead to possible dehydration in residents include:
- Failure to provide requests for water from residents due to inadequate staffing.
- Failure to ensure that residents actually consume the water provided.
- Failure to properly provide training to the staff to have the ability to recognize symptoms of dehydration.
- Failure to closely supervise those residents with dysphagia, which is the condition that makes swallowing difficult.
- Failure to identify actual symptoms of dehydration and provide proper treatment.
- Failure to monitor prescription medication usage, some of which may increase the risk of dehydration.
- Failure to actually notify a physician if a resident becomes dehydrated.
Symptoms of Dehydration in the Elderly
According to Cleveland Clinic, dehydration is a commonly overlooked medical condition in seniors. Some of the symptoms of dehydration in the elderly include thirst, loss of appetite, skin flushing, dry skin, dark-colored urine, weakness, chills, fatigue, dry mouth, faintness, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
In some extreme cases, dehydration may cause challenges with breathing, vomiting, and seizures. Due to the fact that the elderly population in a nursing home often have frailer and weakened overall health, they should receive constant monitoring to ensure that they receive the hydration they need to stay healthy.
Consequences of Dehydration in the Elderly
Consequences of dehydration in the elderly may include pneumonia, a weakened immune system, electrolyte imbalances, ulcer, bedsores, worsened dementia, and the risk for additional infections. Unfortunately, the worst consequence of dehydration in the elderly is death. If you ever notice that your elderly loved one in a nursing home exhibits any symptoms or signs of dehydration, make sure they seek immediate medical attention.
Action Steps to Take if You Suspect Understaffing
If you believe your elderly loved one suffers from dehydration as a result of the nursing home understaffing situation, you have the right to contact the management of the nursing home immediately. If you feel your concerns do not receive immediate attention, you have the legal right to contact Adult Protective Services, and in certain cases, if necessary, contact law enforcement.
Learn How Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help
If your elderly loved one suffered from dehydration as a result of a failure to provide appropriate staff to meet their requests for water, you have the right to seek justice on behalf of your elderly loved one. Learn how our nursing home abuse lawyers can help you develop a case to seek compensation for your loved one. Consider contacting Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 today to have your questions answered and learn your legal rights.