One way in which nursing home residents in San Bernardino can suffer serious injuries during the summer months is dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other hyperthermia conditions. While many people assume that such injuries or conditions may be common during the particularly warm summer months in Southern California, especially when there is a heat wave, yet no residents at skilled nursing facilities in California should suffer from any of these heat-related conditions simply because the outdoor temperatures are setting records. To be sure, nursing homes in California must ensure that residents are safe and are not subject to extreme temperatures that can cause serious harm.
If a nursing home fails to provide cooler temperatures for residents during the summer months, can that nursing home be held accountable for injuries? Nursing homes certainly may be liable in certain situations where residents sustain hyperthermia-related injuries as a result of nursing home neglect.
Nursing Home Neglect and Hyperthermia
California has been experiencing record-high temperatures during summer 2021, and an NBC News report noted that parts of Southern California have seen triple-digit temperatures for days, including record-breaking temperatures of over 110 degrees. Nursing homes in the state need to ensure that their facilities are cool enough to keep residents safe from heat-related illness. Even if nursing home residents are not outside during such heat waves, high indoor temperatures can cause serious health problems.
According to an op-ed in The New York Times contributed by a geriatrician and professor of medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, “it is time that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and state health departments require air-conditioning as a right—and not a luxury—for nursing home residents.” Indeed, as that op-ed clarifies, particularly high indoor temperatures may cause “illness and death among overheated elderly people whose bodies are ill equipped to deal with hyperthermic stress.”
What is Hyperthermia?
According to Medical News Today, hyperthermia is a term that “refers to a group of heat-related conditions characterized by an abnormally high body temperature—in other words, the opposite of hypothermia.” These conditions can occur “when the body’s heat-regulation system becomes overwhelmed by outside factors, causing a person’s internal temperature to rise.” Some of the most common ways in which hyperthermia manifests include the following:
- Heat fatigue and cramps, which can be marked by excessive sweating, muscles cramps and pain, headache, nausea, and flushed skin;
- Heat exhaustion, which can result in a heat stroke if it is not treated and may lead to death, and is identified by heavy sweating, weak pulse, nausea and vomiting, exhaustion, headache, muscle cramps, and cold or pale skin; and
- Heat stroke, which is particularly dangerous for older adults and occurs when the body temperature exceeds 103 degrees, marked by many of the same symptoms as heat exhaustion along with disorientation, blurred vision, dizziness, and other serious symptoms.
Contact Our San Bernardino County Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys
If you or someone you love suffered any type of injury as a result of nursing home neglect, it is critical to learn more about your options for seeking compensation. With help from an experienced San Bernardino County nursing home abuse lawyer, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent nursing home or assisted-living facility where the injuries occurred. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist with your claim.
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