Nursing home patients are particularly vulnerable to dehydration due to the residents’ aging body (decreased sense of thirst, smaller fluid reserves) and the nature of institutionalized care (staff shortages, lack of attention on individual residents). These “reasons” do not excuse a nursing home’s failure to adequately supply a patient’s hydration needs (or to supply proper nutrition). Serious, debilitating injuries can result from dehydration and malnutrition in extreme cases, even death can occur. If you have a loved one whom you believe has suffered harm due to a nursing home’s failure to provide adequate water or food, consult a Rockland County nursing home negligence attorney at the Law Firm of Valerie J. Crown, Attorney at Law, P.C. to understand your legal rights.
Nursing homes, like others who provide care to the elderly, have certain duties. Because of the nature of caring for those who can no longer care for themselves, owners of nursing homes, long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and the like must stay vigilant in assessing patients’ health, particularly their levels of hydration and nutrition. When patients experience these life-threatening medical conditions, they may exhibit several signs and symptoms, such as dark-colored urine, dry skin, and sometimes a feeling of dizziness or light-headedness. A nursing home’s failure to notice such symptoms and respond accordingly can be considered neglect in many circumstances.Understanding What Must Be Proven in a Nursing Home Dehydration Suit
In a nursing home negligence case, four elements must be proven by the plaintiff by a preponderance of the evidence. These are duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. To establish these elements, the plaintiff may need to consult and retain an expert witness who is knowledgeable in the standard of care concerning nursing home patients in the same or a similar situation as presented in the case at hand. A lawyer who regularly handles nursing home negligence cases arising from dehydration and malnutrition can assist a patient’s family in finding an appropriate expert witness to review the patient’s file.
If the case proceeds to trial, the expert will testify about the nursing home’s duty of care and how that duty was breached. For instance, patients who have certain physical or mental limitations may require assistance in eating and drinking or may have particular nutritional needs. Accordingly, the expert may testify that the patient should have been physically assisted in drinking an adequate amount of water but, instead, an overworked employee at an understaffed nursing home failed to address the patient’s hydration needs – or to notice that he or she was suffering signs of extreme dehydration like ashy skin or seizures. The expert may also render an opinion as to whether medical malpractice occurred (departures from good and accepted medical practices) and, if so, how. The opposing party will, most likely, offer its own expert, and it will be up to the jury to decide which testimony is more convincing. If the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff, damages may be awarded.Consult an Experienced Rockland County Lawyer
If you believe that you have a family member who has suffered personal injuries or who has passed away because of a negligent nursing home, you need to seek legal counsel right away. Speaking to an attorney who is experienced in nursing home negligence and medical malpractice, particularly in those involving dehydration and malnutrition, can be an important first step in advocating for the care that your loved one needs and deserves, as well as in making sure that others do not suffer the same fate. Call the Law Firm of Valerie J. Crown, Attorney at Law, P.C., at 845.708.5900 for an appointment, or you can call Valerie’s cell phone directly at 845.598.8253 24/7 to learn more about our services. In addition to nursing home abuse cases, we also represent those who have been hurt by medical and dental malpractice, or are disabled and need to file workers’ compensation and/or Social Security Disability claims in Rockland County and in Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, and Orange Counties as well as New York City.