Southern California experiences year-round high temperatures, but the summer months can be particularly intense in Orange County. People of all ages can experience heat-related injuries due to exposure, but older adults can be particularly susceptible to heat-related injuries as a result of their increased susceptibility to dehydration and health complications. It is critical for nursing homes to take steps to prevent heat-related illnesses and injuries, monitor patients for signs of heat-related illnesses and injuries, and take immediate action when a resident shows signs of a heat-related illness or injury. When a nursing home resident does experience an injury as a result of the heat, the nursing home could be negligent. You should get in touch with an experienced Orange County nursing home neglect lawyer who can help you with your case.
Recognizing the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses and Injuries
Heat-related illnesses and injuries can range from mild to severe, and they can affect older adults in serious ways. As the Mayo Clinic explains, dehydration is especially common among the elderly when they do not drink enough water or experience exposure to high temperatures. There are a few reasons for increased susceptibility to dehydration and heat-related illnesses among seniors, including the fact that “older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies,” and older nursing home residents frequently take medications that place them at greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness during heat waves.
It is important for nursing homes and staff members to understand the different types of heat-related illnesses and injuries that can occur, as well as common warning signs:
- Heat prostration, which may involve weakness, nausea, anxiety, sweating, fainting, pale or gray skin, or clammy skin;
- Heat stroke, which may involve a headache, physical weakness, hot or red or dry skin, high temperature, rapid pulse, and even a loss of consciousness; and
- Heat cramps, which can involve severe cramping, spasms, and either hot and dry skin or cool and clammy skin.
Any residents with signs of a heat-related illness need immediate treatment, and it is critical to know that heat stroke is a medical emergency.
Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses in Nursing Homes
What should Orange County nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities throughout Southern California be doing to prevent heat-related illness and injury? The California Department of Public Health highlights the following steps to “keep residents . . . comfortably during extremely hot weather” and to prevent heat-related illnesses:
- Ensure that nursing home residents dress in lightweight and/or loose-fitting clothes;
- Make sure that residents are well-hydrated;
- Limit physical activities outdoors;
- Keep residents indoors in air conditioning during the hottest times of the day;
- Have fans for use by residents;
- Use cool compresses to cool down;
- Avoid serving hot drinks or hot foods;
- Encourage residents to consume popsicles or other “frozen treats”;
- Have a hydration station set up;
- Keep a particularly watchful eye on residents that are susceptible to dehydration due to medications or infections; and
- Know the signs of heat-related illness or injury and act quickly.
Contact an Orange County Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
If you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home who suffered a heat-related illness or injury, one of the Orange County nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.
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