The most common manner in which nursing home residents are burned is when they are bathed in scalding water or placed too close to heating units in the nursing home. Some residents also suffer burns related to cigarettes. Regardless of the manner, burns to nursing home residents can be painful, severe, and even life-threatening. If a nursing home resident suffers burns on his or her body, it may very well be due to negligence on the part of the nursing home. If any of the following types of burns lead to serious death or injury of your loved one, call our St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyer, David Terry for a consultation.
Good intentions don’t excuse negligent behavior. Most people know that elderly people are often cold. Older bodies just don’t retain heat like younger bodies. As a result, when a nursing home resident is cold, you will often see them with extra blankets to stay warm. Or, you may see them moved closer to the room heater or a portable heater placed in their room. However, all too often, the problem is that well meaning nursing home employees will either place residents too close to a heater or leave them there for too long. As a result, the resident often suffers severe burns on their delicate skin.
The skin on elderly individuals is fragile. In a sense, it is just as fragile and tender as a newborn baby. Consequently, when giving a bath to an elderly nursing home resident, nursing home employees must be cognizant to the vulnerabilities associated with the resident. For some, this may not be obvious, so it is up to the nursing home and its related corporate home office to provide proper training to those who have the sensitive job of bathing the elderly residents. Part of that training should be the appropriate temperature for bathing residents. Sadly, many residents suffer serious burns after being submerged into scalding water.
Making St. Louis Nursing Homes Safe from Burn Injuries
Nursing home employees must be trained to understand that the skin of older adults is more fragile than younger people. It is dry, loose, and less elastic because the dermis layer of our skin becomes thinner as we age. A thinner dermis leads to a more fragile epidermis (the outer layer of skin). As a result, elderly people are not only more susceptible to being cold but also to being burned by the efforts used to warm them, such as blankets or heaters. With the added fact that many elderly nursing home residents suffer from mental or physical impairments and are incapable of calling for help or adjusting the heat around them, nursing home employees must constantly be aware of the circumstances they have placed on their elderly residents.
So, what should employees do to prevent nursing home residents from being burned? They should consult their facility policies for proper bath water temperatures to insure that residents are not accidentally scalded. If policies and procedures are silent as to appropriate temperatures, then they should test the water before the elderly resident is bathed. If the water is hot to the point of being uncomfortable to their touch, then they know that it will be substantially uncomfortable to the elderly resident. Staff members should also insist that the policies be updated to include appropriate bathing temperatures.
Nursing home employees should also use blankets rather than heating units if possible. If not, residents should not be placed too close to heating units and certainly should not be touching the heater. Residents who have heating units should be observed regularly to make sure that they are safe and not being harmed by heaters.
Nursing homes have a legal responsibility to keep your family member safe. This includes keeping a resident safe from being burned. Their failure to do so may rise to the level of abuse or neglect. If you believe that your family member suffered a serious burn as a result of nursing home negligence, call us at (314) 593-2438.
Nursing home employees will learn your schedule and, believe it or not, have been known to take care of your family member according to the times you are there. If you are known to visit every morning at 8:00 a.m., many nursing homes will have your loved one awake and presentable at that time. However, the rest of the day, they may go with little to no care because many nursing homes just don’t have the staff needed to provide quality care to all residents.
So, in general, do your best to visit your loved one at different times. If possible, have other family members visit at different times as well. Whatever you do, don’t be predictable on the times you visit the nursing home. Visit as often as you can and at as many differing times as you can.
If you see a problem, do not hesitate to bring that to the attention of those in charge of providing your loved one with a safe environment and quality care. Of course, always be polite.
With respect to burns, pay attention to how close your loved one is to radiators, baseboard heaters, and portable space heaters and how long they have been there. Heat should not be directed at one spot for long periods of time. If your family member is using a heating blanket, check to make sure that the heat is as low as possible to provide quality heating and preferably is not resting directly on your loved one’s skin.
Ask questions, insist on answers, and talk to the Director of Nursing and Administrator as needed.
The Terry Law Firm is based in St. Louis, Missouri, however, we have handled cases all over the State of Missouri for years. Modern technology has revolutionized the way lawyers are able to help our clients. Many things that took weeks to do or that had to be done in person as little as ten years ago, can now be done electronically. While we certainly believe in working personally with our clients, we are willing and able to travel when necessary and to use technology when able.
So the answer is YES! Whether you live in St. Louis, Kennett, Hannibal, Joplin, Kansas City or anywhere in between the Terry Law Firm can help you.