Dehydration

West Seattle brothers allow father to rot to death

Every once in a while, I come across a story that is almost impossible for me to read because of the horrific details. This is one of those stories. which I came across in the Seattle P-I.

Sadly, the story is about a pair of local men, both in their 50’s, who lived rent-free in their father’s Alki/West Seattle home. All the while, Keith and Kenneth Shaw allowed their 86 year old father, Kyle Shaw, Jr. to waste away malnourished, dehydrated, and caked in filth.

King County prosecutors allege that the Shaw brothers refused to provide proper care to their father, so that they could inherit all of their parents savings.

Back in November 2010, another relative had called the paramedics to the Shaw house. The paramedics found Kyle Shaw in only a T-shirt and socks. The sock had grown into his feet, according to charging documents, as the elderly Shaw had been wearing the bloodied, feces-covered socks for at least a year.  At Swedish Medical Center, a doctor found  Mr. Shaw’s feet were rotting, along with suffering an array of life-threatening ailments.

A social service worker visited the Shaws, responding to a troublesome report from the Nov. 2010 hospital visit. Despite the fact that Kyle Shaw and his wife had large savings, enough to pay for Kyle’s care, the Shaw brothers balked at the idea. One of them said that doing so would force the other brother (who didn’t have a job) to “… end up homeless, living under the viaduct.”

Both men have been charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment. Neither has entered a plea yet.

Son Faces Elder Abuse & Drug Charges

According to an AP report, Alfonso Patrick Moya, Jr. faces abuse and drug charges related to the death of his 72-year old father. Apparently, Mr. Moya was selling his father’s pain medication. Mr. Moya was his father, Alfonso Patricio Moya Sr.’s primary caregiver. MedsElderAbuse.jpg

The day after being admitted to a Veterans Administration hospital, Moya Sr., died from dehydration, malnutrition, and bedsores that resulted from neglect. Police claim that Moya Jr. had been filling his father’s monthly Lortab prescriptions and sold them.

According to hospital officials’ reports to the Salt Lake Tribune, the eldery Moya’s bed sores were so severe that one bed sore was the size of a fist. That sore would have required surgery as well as an open sore on one of his feet. His feet and ankles were swollen to twice their normal size. As recently as December 2010, doctors claimed that Moya Sr. was able to walk and speak.

When police entered Moya Jr’s house, they said that they were overwhelmed with a “very strong odor” of bleach, feces, and decomposing tisue. Despite the fact that the bedding had been disposed of or in the laundry, the mattress where Moya Sr had been lying was “saturated with urine and feces”

Moya Jr. admitted that his father hadn’t been bathed for at least two weeks, but blamed his estranged wife for not cleaning off the fecal matter before calling 911.

The Dangers of Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the more prevalent problems seen in nursing homes. Patients that are confined to their bed have little to no control over their fluid intake. A bed-ridden patient is essentially limited to the water they have within their reach. When the pitcher runs dry and doesn’t get replaced, the fluid intake can suffer. If a resident’s fluid intake and output isn’t monitored, the resident runs the risk of developing a myriad of problems. 

Thomas Gallivan at New York Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog explains how dehydration leads to other problems:

Although it would seem that keeping a resident hydrated in a nursing home setting would be simple enough, it is one of the most common diagnoses when nursing home residents are discharged from a nursing home to a hospital.

Dehydration can occur if residents are on certain types of medication and/or if a resident has diarrhea. In addition, some nursing home residents become refuse to eat or drink. However, in these situations, it is incumbent upon the nursing home staff to be more vigilant in monitoring the resident’s hydration. Unfortunately, dehydration is often the result of nursing home neglect and/or understaffing. Dehydration can lead to:

1) Infection;
2) Confusion;
3) Weakness;
4) Bedsores;
5) Pneumonia; and
6) Death.

Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, grey or ashen skin, confusion, dark or amber urine, low urine output, fever, delirium, and infection. We cannot stress enough how important it is for families of nursing home residents to be a constant presence where a loved one is a resident. By doing so, the family members can observe and react appropriately if signs or symptoms of neglect or abuse arise.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen reports from nursing homes where residents were dehydrated, yet consistently left without water within their reach. These same people, though clearly showing the signs of dehydration, weren’t monitored as to the fluid intake and output. Its these simple things that or so simple to do that get lost in budget cuts. We never see the dehydration in isolation. We see it combined with a myriad of other problems, just as described above. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, please follow Tom’s advice and keep an eye on these things that the staff may be missing.

About Kevin

Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful elder abuse/neglect cases and has a stellar reputation for getting results for his injury clients in serious car crashes, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, maritime claims, and asbestos injury cases.