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Dehydration caused resident’s death

Published on January 13th, 2009

Twincities.com had an article about a lawsuit filed by the family of a man so neglected by a Stillwater nursing home in Minneapolis that he had to be hospitalized for dehydration.  He died as a result of dehydration and malnutrition.  There is no excuse for this kind of neglect. How difficult is it to make sure residents have enough fluids to drink?

Dean Cole died Jan. 21, 2007, after losing 21 pounds in 15 days while in the Golden LivingCenter-Greeley facility. The state Department of Health investigated the death and found the center "in neglect."

He weighed 155 pounds Dec. 12.   By Dec. 27, he weighed only 134 pounds–a 21 pound drop.  Records show Cole ate nothing for 15 meals during the eight-day period before he collapsed. An employee said she planned to request a nutritional supplement for Cole, to be eaten three times a day — but it was never provided.

"When you have patients with dementia, they do not understand that they are hungry or thirsty," Plaintiff’s attorney Mark Kosieradzki said. "That is one of the reasons you take them to nursing homes. They are supposed to get care there."

Cole’s wife, Virginia, visited him every day. She noticed his weight loss and asked the staff about it — and was told he was fine.  The center staff did not notify doctors or family about Cole’s weight loss.  

Cole was finally sent to a hospital Dec. 29. He was diagnosed with dehydration, kidney failure and pneumonia.  Doctors had to give him more than 2.5 gallons of fluids intravenously. He then regained 20 pounds of weight — proof of how severely dehydrated he was.  But the damage to Cole had been done. Severe dehydration damages cells and organs, including the brain. Cole died in hospice care Jan. 21, 2007.

The Golden LivingCenter facility in Stillwater is part of a national chain of nursing care facilities.

 

Joe Pioletti
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