The most common cause of undernutrition and malnutrition is a limited intake of basic foods and nutrients. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, malnutrition can occur in a nursing home due to a lack of monitoring, untrained staff, or neglect.
However, malnutrition can also be caused by specific illnesses as well as psychological and mental issues. Examples of these include cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, dementia, dental problems, and swallowing problems.
Many of the factors above can be easily identified, but one cause of malnutrition that is sometimes overlooked is a failure to properly monitor medications, which may cause a lack of appetite. Certain medications can cause unease in the stomach, which causes the patient to lose interest in eating, and others can directly suppress the body’s natural hunger reflexes that make us want to eat.
If you have a loved one admitted to a nursing home who has exhibited unexpected weight loss, and you believe that it is due to malnutrition, we welcome you to contact our team. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm might be able to help, so please call (800) 842-6336 for a free case evaluation.
Health Issues and Malnourishment
According to Mayo Clinic, improper diet and a lack of nutrients can lead to a wide range of health issues, such as:
- Unintentional, unusual, or unexpected weight loss
- Muscle weakness or muscle atrophy
- Arthritis and low bone density
- Frequent bone fractures and breaks
- A lack of energy
- A loss of mental functions
One issue with malnourishment is that it can be difficult to diagnose. It occurs slowly over time and can be difficult to reverse. If your loved one exhibits any of the symptoms above, they may be suffering from malnourishment.
Malnourishment, Appetite, and Medications
Nursing homes are entrusted with the care and wellbeing of their residents. They must do what they can and must provide certain federally regulated services to ensure that their residents have access to the care and services they need.
One aspect of this care is ensuring that patients who are taking medications of any sort do not suffer the debilitating effects of malnourishment because of their medication use.
Medication errors are generally classified as preventable, and the nursing home or its staff may be held liable for any damages or injuries that occur because of medication errors. Some of the ways that medication use can affect appetite—including a failure to properly monitor medications, which may cause a lack of appetite—are described below.
Not Following Instructions
Many medications are meant to be taken with certain amounts of food or liquid. If these instructions are not followed, the patient may be harmed. The nursing staff is responsible for the proper administration of all resident medications.
Improper Medication Use
Crushing, splitting, or powdering pills that should not be handled in those ways can cause patient harm. It can cause rapid absorption of chemicals that were supposed to be released slowly into the bloodstream, some of which can suppress appetite.
Pharmacist errors can lead to administration errors, and taking an incorrect dosage of certain medicines can negatively impact appetite.
Many nursing homes are understaffed, and their teams may be rushed or overworked. If a patient misses a dose, is given a dose at the wrong time, or is given more than one dose to make up for a missed one, it can have a severe effect on the body of the patient.
How Medication Errors Occur
We know that medication errors can lead to poor appetite and that poor appetite can contribute to malnutrition, but how do medication errors occur?
There are many interrelated layers of nursing home problems that can contribute to a medication error. These include:
- Poor hiring practices: Hiring staff who do not have the training or experience needed to care for the elderly can lead to substandard care.
- A lack of training: If a nursing home does not have staff on hand who understand how, when, and in what quantities medications are to be administered to specific patients with specific medical and dietary needs, the patient’s health can be impacted.
- Lack of staff: Understaffing is a common problem at nursing homes, which leads to another set of issues in the form of overworked staff who cannot give each patient the time and attention they need.
Contact Us for Nursing Home Malpractice
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, the team can help you understand the risk factors of medication errors, as well as failures to properly monitor medications, which may cause a lack of appetite. We can also help you understand how a failure to monitor the factors that can cause these issues can be used to prove negligence. Call us at (800) 842-6336 or click here for a free case evaluation.
Your elderly loved one should not have to suffer because of the mistakes or negligence of the home that is supposed to be caring for them, so contact us for assistance today.