The first day of summer is right around the corner, and experts continue to warn that heat waves may become more regular and last longer all over the United States. Extreme heat is not just uncomfortable, it’s potentially life-threatening. Particularly for the elderly, who are at greater risk for heatstroke and other problems associated with excessive heat exposure. As a nursing home neglect lawyer, I know heatstroke in a nursing home can have devastating consequences.
If you or someone you love is living in a nursing home, read below to learn more about heat-related illnesses and the responsibility of nursing home staff to protect residents.
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke can occur when a person’s body temperature reaches or exceeds 103 degrees. Without emergency treatment, heatstroke can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. It can lead to lasting health issues or even death.
Warning signs of heatstroke include:
- High body temperature (103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
- Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Passing out
Older individuals are at greater risk for heat injuries.
As we get older, our bodies have more difficulty adjusting to shifts in temperature. There are various factors at play. According to the CDC:
- Seniors are more likely to take prescription medications, which can impact the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or sweat.
- They are also more likely to have chronic conditions that affect typical body responses to heat.
Nursing home staff are responsible for preventing heatstroke.
It is up to nursing home staff to take precautions to protect residents from heat-related injuries and illnesses. This includes maintaining a comfortable, safe temperature inside the living facility, in both bedrooms and common areas. They are also responsible for supervising seniors when they are outside in the heat. (Including ensuring they are never outside during peak hours.)
Here are other preventative measures that nursing homes should take:
- Keeping seniors hydrated and serving water regularly.
- Ensuring residents stay inside during the hottest parts of the day.
- Checking that every senior is appropriately dressed for the weather. This may include light clothes, cool fabrics, and hats to shade their faces from the sun.
- Providing fans and fully operational AC.
- Refraining from serving caffeinated or alcoholic beverages on hotter days.
- Limiting strenuous physical activity during extreme heat.
With heatstroke, time is of the essence.
Immediate medical attention is imperative with heat injuries. If a senior appears to be suffering from heat stroke, he or she needs care right away. Nursing home employees should take the following steps.
- Move the resident inside or to a cool area.
- Have them take small sips of water or electrolyte-filled drinks.
- Position them close to an air conditioner or fan.
- Give them a bath or shower to bring their body temperature down.
Be aware of nursing home neglect.
Trusting a loved one to the care of an assisted living facility is never easy, and sadly, seniors are not always treated the way they deserve.
Heatstroke is just one example of the consequences of nursing home negligence. Often this is due to understaffing, but these mistakes can be devastating no matter the cause. They are truly inexcusable.
Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer today for FREE.
If you or a loved one has suffered a heat injury or any other condition from the negligence of a nursing home employee, you could be entitled to compensation for medical care and other losses. Give one of our experienced and compassionate nursing home neglect lawyers a call at (901) 327-2100 or contact us online to discuss your situation for FREE.
It goes without saying that no amount of compensation can ever make up for the harm a senior has suffered. But if the responsible parties are not held accountable, it could unfortunately happen again. Our job is to get justice for your family so you can focus on healing.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation to find out how we can help.