We reached a wrongful death settlement in a case where our client became dehydrated and as a result suffered kidney failure. This in turn led to the development of a bed sore which became infected, resulting in the death of the client.
The client, a retired postal worker, was admitted to the defendant nursing home for short-term rehabilitation after undergoing brain surgery to remove a benign tumor. As part of her post-operative care, she was placed on a fluid restriction to minimize the chances of a post-operative bleed.
While the fluid restriction was intended to minimize the client’s fluid intake, the client still needed to receive the amount of fluid called for by the physician’s order. This required ongoing measurements of the fluid intake. Our review of the chart revealed that those measurements were taken on just over one-third of the shifts. The facility protocols for residents on fluid restrictions also required daily labs to determine whether was suffering from dehydration. These were done 4 times in 37 days. Additional signs of dehydration were noted in the chart but never brought to the doctor’s attention.
The cumulative effects of dehydration resulted in the resident suffering severe kidney failure. This in turn led to the development of a bed sore which progressed rapidly to a Stage 4 pressure ulcer with exposed bone on her tailbone. The bed sore became infected and this led to her death from sepsis.
Our working theory of liability was that that nursing staff failed to maintain adequate levels of hydration when the orders required close monitoring of her hydration levels, the staff violated the facility’s own protocols which required daily lab work to monitor for dehydration, and the staff failed to recognize signs and symptoms of dehydration and alert the physician. Had this been done, the catastrophic episode of kidney failure would not have occurred. All that would have been required to avert the outcome was to provide the client with fluids but due to an ongoing lack of monitoring, this did not occur. Instead, the client suffered a bed sore which in turn became infected and led to her wrongful death from sepsis.
The case settled for $600,000 at a mediation which was taken after the client’s son was presented for his deposition. (Cook County).