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Elders in a Nursing Home or Adult Living Facility Should Not Die From Heat Stroke or Dehydration

by The Beasley Firm  |  June 9, 2011  |  

On June 7, 2011, emergency responders were called to the Sunrise Care Center in Milwaukee to tend to a nursing home resident who was unresponsive. The emergency crew was not called to assist with a resident that was in a diabetic coma or having a heart attack. The emergency responders were called after a nursing home resident was left outside, during a heat advisory, for over three hours. At 2:45 p.m. that day, the 69 year old wheelchair-bound elder was wheeled outside. Milwaukee was in an excessive heat advisory that day with a record high temperature of 97 degrees. At 6 p.m. that evening, the male resident was still outside, in his wheelchair, and found dead.

How many times do we as neighbors, sons, daughters, grandchildren, and non-medical professionals hear on the news on any excessively hot day to please check on our elderly and make sure they are well hydrated and staying cool? As non-medical professionals, we know that you cannot take an elderly wheelchair-bound human being out into 97 degree heat and leave them there unattended for over 3 hours. If we know that, why don’t the paid “medical professionals” that we trust to keep our elderly safe know that?

In the medical profession, it is well known that the elderly are at a higher risk of developing heat stroke or heat stress. As the body ages, it does not adjust to extremes in temperature as it once did. Many of our elderly are on blood pressure medications, thyroid medications, or have other chronic conditions that leave them more prone to heat-related illnesses or death. Certain medications prevent the body from perspiring or sweating that would naturally cool the body off in extreme heat situations.

Obviously, we all know that if you take an elderly nursing home patient outside and subject them to excessive heat for hours, it can lead to heat stroke, catastrophic injuries or death. What the majority of people do not realize is that many of our elders also die of heat stroke or heat-related injuries within a nursing home or assisted living facility. Many facilities have non-working air conditioners or the staff fails to turn the air conditioner on for residents who can’t do it for themselves due to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, blindness, severe arthritis or mobility problems. Many times, a simple task such as opening up a window for ventilation is overlooked. Portable fans that were supplied by nursing home residents’ families to be used to keep their loved ones comfortable were being used to cool the nurses, nursing assistants or health care aides. Residents that rely on a medical professional to dress them, were dressed in long pants and thick shirts instead of light weight clothing. Residents, who were unable to drink water on their own, were not provided or offered water, causing them to suffer from dehydration, kidney failure or death.

Employees of nursing homes, adult living facilities and elder care homes have a duty to protect our loved ones from harm, not cause it. There is no excuse for these professionals to neglect our elders or subject them to extremes in heat when it can easily be avoided. Without having all the facts, my guess would be that the nurse or medical assistant that took the Milwaukee nursing home resident outside was done with his or her shift at 3 p.m. and forgot to tell the oncoming nurse or CNA that he was outside.

Here at the nationally known Beasley nursing home negligence law firm, we have nurses and physicians on staff that have spent over 60 years treating and caring for geriatric patients. We combine that actual hospital, assisted living facility or nursing home knowledge with our legal expertise to obtain the record breaking settlements and verdicts we have won. To date, we have had billions awarded on behalf of our injured clients.

If your mother, father, brother, sister or child was a victim of nursing home abuse or assisted living facility negligence in Philadelphia, we have the real medical and legal experience to help you. Please feel free to contact us for a risk free, confidential consultation. Our passion, knowledge and history show that we fight for those that have been wrongfully injured. We will never ask you for any payment unless we do our job and win for you.

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