A Guide to Claiming Hospital Dehydration Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by hospital dehydration we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered hospital dehydration and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Introduction

It is estimated that one in eight elderly care home residents admitted to hospital are suffering from dehydration through lack of fluids.

According to a study commissioned by NHS Improving Quality (now NHS England Sustainable Improvement Team), as many as 1,000 hospital patients every month may die needlessly from acute kidney injury (AKI) due to severe dehydration.

Simple steps such as ensuring patients have enough to drink and doctors reviewing their medication would prevent them becoming ill. Dehydration claims are often a clinical negligence matter.

Do I have a hospital dehydration claim?

Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:

  • there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
  • the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.

Causation

To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.

Get an impartial opinion

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to a hospital dehydration claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.

You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.

Is compensation always payable?

If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".

Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.

Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.

How long do I have to start a claim?

If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.

It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?

You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.

The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).

It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.

How much compensation can I claim for hospital dehydration?

The amount of money you could claim for your hospital dehydration will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your hospital dehydration has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a hospital dehydration? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

What is the average injury compensation for a hospital dehydration claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a hospital dehydration will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your hospital dehydration compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Can I see the complete judicial college tables?

The table above (excerpted from the Judicial College Tables) shows the most common hospital dehydration claims. To see the complete list see: Judicial College Injury Tables.

Will a clinical negligence claim affect my benefits?

It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?

Hospital dehydration compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a hospital dehydration injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your hospital dehydration claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a hospital dehydration claim take?

The length of time needed to process a hospital dehydration claim can vary considerably.

For instance, a simple uncontested medical negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. However, if the case is contested or there is a serious or complex ongoing injury, the process might take considerably longer. On average a medical negligence claim takes between 12 and 36 months. See:

How long will my claim take?

Will I still be able to claim for a hospital dehydration after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your hospital dehydration claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

How do patients become dehydrated?

Dehydration occurs where a person's fluid output exceeds their fluid input. For example if patients lose fluid - through prolonged vomiting or diarrhoea, or through high fevers causing sweating - they are likely to become dehydrated if that lost fluid is not replaced.

What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration?

A person with dehydration may display a number of symptoms; decreased urine output and a dry mouth are an early indication. Muscle cramps, nausea and light-headedness are also common signs. If dehydration is severe a patient may become confused and weak and may eventually fall into a coma.

Proper standards of care in residential homes and hospitals should ensure that these signs are noticed and treated quickly to prevent deterioration of the condition.

Although mild to moderate dehydration in older people may difficult to detect, it can be confirmed by simple tests to measure the level of sodium and other electrolytes in the blood. These should be carried out where dehydration is suspected.

How is dehydration treated?

Dehydration may be treated by simply ensuring a patient drinks plenty of fluid to replace that which has been lost. If a patient is too ill or weak to drink, fluids and electrolytes may be administered intravenously (IV) through a drip.

Care home staff and medical professionals have a duty of care to ensure that residents and patients are given sufficient fluids to prevent dehydration, or to rehydrate where the condition has already presented.

What happens if a patient's dehydration is left untreated?

Dehydration may lead to high concentrations of sodium in the blood, a condition known as hypernatraemia. Some drugs and hormonal conditions may also increase the level of sodium in the blood.

Patients may develop a condition known as acute kidney injury (AKI). Known as "the silent killer" it may go unnoticed by medical staff. AKI causes a loss of kidney function and can progress very quickly.

Although older people are particularly vulnerable, younger patients may also be affected, with one in 25 of all hospital inpatients under the age of 40 developing the condition.

Patients who survive AKI may be left with permanent health problems and the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Around 5-10% of patients never regain full renal function, and may require lifelong dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Can I claim for medical negligence?

Whether in a care home, NHS or private hospital, keeping patients hydrated is the most basic requirement of good healthcare practice.

If that basic care has fallen below standard and resulted in the patient becoming ill through dehydration, then a claim may be brought for medical negligence.

How does no win, no fee work?

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything if your hospital dehydration claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.

No win, no fee guarantee

If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a hospital dehydration injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my hospital dehydration claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my hospital dehydration claim?

If your hospital dehydration claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Why do most solicitors charge 25%?

25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. hospital dehydration claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. In some cases our solicitors can work on a reduced success fee. Call us for more information.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Hospital dehydration FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert