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The failure to diagnose dehydration in elders

Research on dehydration among elderly populations may give pause to Queens County physicians and caregivers who work with senior populations. The British study looked at a common method of diagnosis, urinalysis, to determine whether this provided an accurate view of a person's status. Researchers found that many common cues for dehydration, including urinalysis and clinical observation, may be misleading and result in a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose.

The study compared blood testing for dehydration with the much simpler and less expensive urinalysis. The reason for lab testing is that common outward markers of dehydration are known to not always reliable in senior populations. It was found that urinalysis yielded both false positives and false negatives, the former of which could lead to a worsened condition or fatality in extreme circumstances. Reasons for failure to accurately test for dehydration ranged from use of certain medications to poor kidney function.

An inability to spot dehydration due to inadequate procedures can result in delayed treatment and a worsened condition. Unchecked dehydration starts with dizziness and other symptoms of the nervous system, and in some cases it ends with heat stroke.

When the failure of physicians and other health providers to follow the latest research endangers the life of their patients, it can result in serious financial and emotional trauma for that patient and their family. A senior who suffers dehydration in any setting due to a failure to make a proper diagnosis will likely face medical expenses for otherwise unnecessary treatment, pain and suffering. The family may likewise suffer these and other damages. They may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to see what recourse may be available.

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