The elderly comprise a large percentage of Americans diagnosed with diabetes. It is important that nursing home staff spends extra time with elderly diabetic patients and knows to be aware of complications and health problems such as diabetic ketoacidosis. Without nursing home assistance with diabetic ketoacidosis, it can prove to be dangerous or even fatal. While this is far more common in patients with type 1 diabetes than type 2 diabetes, it is still important that staff members are aware of the possible signs.
What is diabetic ketoacidosis?
When a diabetic patient does not have enough insulin in his or her body, they can develop diabetic ketoacidosis. The blood sugar levels of the body increase because of the lack of insulin. This leads to the development of toxic acids known as ketones as the body begins to break down fat for energy. This may cause the patient to lose consciousness and if not addressed in time, might even prove fatal. Complicating matters is the fact that symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis can develop very rapidly. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Overall confusion
- Breath that smells fruit-scented
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness or fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
In order to confirm ketoacidosis it is important to have a physician test for high ketone levels and high blood sugar levels in the patient’s urine.
What triggers diabetic ketoacidosis?
Ketoacidosis is often triggered because of a problem with insulin therapy or an illness. Because elderly nursing home residents are already susceptible to illnesses and infection, it places them at far greater risk of developing ketoacidosis. Other possible triggers for diabetic ketoacidosis include alcohol and drug abuse, stroke, heart attack, surgery, high fever, physical or emotional trauma, or stress.
How can we treat diabetic ketoacidosis?
If the nursing home staff is aware of the problems early on, it is possible to treat ketoacidosis with a combination of insulin therapy, electrolyte replacement, and fluid replacement. Some complications with ketoacidosis if not treated early enough include swelling of the brain (cerebral edema), low potassium (hypokalemia), and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
The prevention of ketoacidosis
The best way to prevent ketoacidosis is by ensuring the patient gets enough physical activity and has healthy eating patterns. It is also important to actively monitor the blood sugar level in order to ensure it remains within the target range.
Many of the nursing home residents rely on the nursing home staff to monitor their blood sugar level and adjust insulin dosage if this is necessary. Furthermore, it is also important to ensure that the resident receives healthy and well-balanced meals where possible.
Diabetes as it relates to nursing home staff
It is important that there is enough staff available and that staff is well trained to monitor diabetic residents properly. Unfortunately, with many nursing home programs trying to cut corners where they can, many residents do not receive the monitoring they need. If you or someone you care about is concerned about your level of diabetic monitoring or treatment, it is important to speak out. Even if your loved one manages to catch the problem in time, keep in mind that others might not be so lucky.
Legal help for cases of uncontrolled blood sugar in nursing homes
Our nursing home negligence attorneys have successfully represented individuals and families in cases involving injuries related to uncontrolled blood sugar in nursing home patients. The overwhelming majority of these cases should have been easily prevented had the facility taken the necessary steps to monitor and regulate the patient’s blood sugar. If you believe that your loved one suffered, we can help provide you with the answers you need to determine when legal action is necessary. Call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today and let us begin the process for you. (888) 424-5757