A widow was awarded $6.5 million in an Ohio nursing home lawsuit filed over the dehydration death of her husband, which was allegedly caused when he was not provided with enough water during a temporary nursing home stay.
The nursing home dehydration lawsuit was filed on behalf of a former lawyer, Peter Southard, by his widow, Diana, against Whetstone Gardens & Care Center in Columbus, Ohio.
The complaint alleged that Southard died from dehydration and kidney failure two days after returning home from a 15 day stay at the nursing home, where the facility failed to make sure he drank water.
A stroke in 1984 left Peter Southard with impaired short-term memory and an inability to remember on his own to drink water when he was thirsty. His wife alleged that it was necessary for someone to watch him drink to ensure he received enough fluids.
Diane Southard placed her husband in the Ohio nursing home to give herself a 15 day break from the daily care she provided to her husband. When she picked him up from the facility, Southard was incontinent and had a bloody rash from a urine-soaked bed. He passed away two days later.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, employees at Whetstone Gardens & Care Center testified during the nursing home wrongful death lawsuit that they were unaware of the special care required and critical need for water he had. The trial also included testimony from doctors who said the nursing home care fell below minimum standards.
On April 23, 2009, following a 9 day trial, the Ohio jury found the nursing home negligent and an awarded $6.5 million in compensatory damages to the family, including $500,000 for Southard’s pain and suffering before his death.
Whetstone claimed that the dehydration death was caused by diarrhea Southard suffered after he left the nursing home. The facility also filed a third-party complaint against Southard’s primary-care doctor, alleging that they were not provided proper instructions.
Even in the absence of special needs residents like Southard, nursing home dehydration and malnutrition can occur when facilities fail to provide sufficient food and fluid or monitor the intake of residents. Failure of staff to keep adequate records, assess a residents dietary needs or understand that nutritional needs of residents can lead to severe and life-threatening nursing home injuries.