Man Dies From Dehydration After Short Stay at Nursing Home

A jury in another state awared $6.5 million to the widow of a nursing home patient who died from a lack of water.

A stroke had left the former lawyer debilitated, forgetful and always in need of water to drink.

His wife had cared for her husband since the stroke in 1984. She occasionally admitted him to a nursing home to give herself a break.

In May 2005, she took him to the nursing home in question; when she returned 15 days later, she found the 61-year-old Navy veteran incontinent with clothes strewn about his room and a bloody rash on his groin from urine-soaked bedding.

"After [my husband] suffered a brain aneurysm in 1984, my priority in life was taking care of my husband," his wife said. "When I returned from this particular respite, I was devastated to see the shape he was in.

"Two days later, he passed away as a result of the lack of care he received while I was away. I lost the love of my life."

Doctors said he died of dehydration and kidney failure.

The couple had been married 34 years. For more, read the story.

A nursing home or assisting living facility must ensure each patient is provided with the proper amount of fluids to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration. Dehydration is simply the decline in a patient’s medical condition when fluid output exceeds fluid intake.

The amount of fluid each patient needs depends on the patient’s medical condition. Generally, a patient requires 30 ccs of fluid per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2 lbs.) of body weight, although fluid needs may increase or decrease as the patient’s medical condition changes. Patients with renal or cardiac problems may require less fluid in order to prevent fluid excess or overload, which itself can cause medical problems.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia. 

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