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Dehydration diagnosis difficulties in elderly individuals

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2016 | Medical Malpractice |

Warmer weather can create greater risks of dehydration for residents of North Carolina. It is important to realize that elderly people can be more severely affected than those in many other age groups. There is a greater potential for impaired kidney function, diabetes and use of certain medications among the elderly that can result in an increased risk of dehydration. Additionally, the sense of thirst can be diminished in an elderly individual. Caregivers and loved ones may want to be aware of signs of dehydration, including dry skin, excessive tiredness and a dry mouth.

Medical testing for dehydration can also be challenging among elderly patients. In a study conducted in Britain, nearly 400 elderly individuals living in varied care situations were evaluated through both blood and urine testing to determine whether they were dehydrated. In some cases, the tests for a given individual disagreed. Urine testing for dehydration can be accomplished with the use of a dip stick. Urine can be more concentrated in a dehydrated party, which often results in a dark appearance. However, urine testing can be inaccurate. Blood testing is the more accurate approach to identifying a patient’s level of hydration, but this can be invasive.

Inaccurate readings could produce serious consequences for a patient. A false positive result for dehydration could result in an individual being given too much fluid. A false negative could lead to potentially deadly results if a dehydrated individual continues without obtaining needed fluids. Blood testing in cases of doubt could minimize the potential failure to diagnose a serious condition involving hydration problems.

Issues such as dehydration, dizziness, and disorientation could have many explanations, and lack of a thorough evaluation in an emergency room or other urgent care setting could lead to serious or even deadly consequences. In such a case, a medical malpractice attorney might suggest the filing of a lawsuit seeking compensation for the harm caused by the negligence of the medical professionals.