Malnutrition and Medical Malpractice
When you hear the word “malnutrition,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? One of the first images that probably jumps into your mind is a tragic picture of a starving child in a war-torn country. But while malnutrition is a concern for underprivileged communities across the world, there is another group that often goes ignored: victims of malpractice and neglect.
From protein to carbohydrates, there are dozens of important nutrients that the body needs on a regular basis. When the body does not receive enough of these important nutrients, it can lead to malnutrition.
Causes of Malnutrition
The most common cause of malnutrition is a low intake of food, which can result from factors like:
- Lack of resources or money
- Social problems, like a fear of leaving the house
- Mobility issues, which can prevent someone from going to the store or preparing a meal
- Digestive and stomach disorders, like ulcerative colitis
- Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders
- Limited cooking skills
- Tooth and mouth issues, like poorly fitting dentures
When someone is not getting their daily dose of required nutrients, they might begin to experience symptoms such as:
- Inability to concentrate
- Constant feeling of coldness
- Loss of fat, muscle mass, and body tissue
- Long healing time for wounds
- Reduced sex drive
- Fertility problems
Without proper treatment, people suffering from malnutrition might experience breathing difficulties, organ failure, or other fatal complications. For children, malnutrition can lead to long-term complications, including stunted growth.
Malnutrition and Malpractice
Malnutrition can impact anyone. However, some of the most common victims are people in nursing homes, hospitals, or other facilities where they rely on others for care. Since people in nursing homes and other care facilities are already elderly, ill, or in a vulnerable state, their bodies are in great need of vital nutrients. They may also require assistance, like a feeding tube, to get the nutrients that they need to heal and thrive. Unfortunately, their need for assistance makes them susceptible to negligence and malpractice. Additionally, their already-compromised health means that a lack of nutrients can quickly have deadly affects.
When people in nursing homes or hospitals suffer from malnutrition, it is not usually the result of malicious intent. Instead, malnutrition is often the result of a mistake or oversight, like forgetting to check on a patient during a busy day or misdiagnosing a patient’s need for a feeding tube. Still, caregivers and health professionals have a duty to care for their patients, and even a simple mistake can still mean deadly or long-term consequences.
Whether it occurs as the result of neglect or an oversight, a lack of nutrients can be especially dangerous for elderly and ill people. If you have a loved one who may be susceptible to malnutrition as a result of malpractice or neglect, it’s critical to know the warning signs—and to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your side if malnutrition leads to death or a serious injury.
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