Nursing Homes Should Identify Signs of Heat Stroke in Residents Before It’s Too Late
Elderly nursing home residents, without the appropriate indoor cooling areas, can negatively react to high-temperature exposures and become especially at risk for heat stroke or heat stress injuries. Heat stroke is a serious condition that can cause seizures, fluid retention, brain damage, dehydration, cardiac-related events, and even death. When a nursing home is not prepared to manage residents in the heat, residents will suffer.
To identify any heat-related illness, nursing home staff should watch out for:
- Spots before the eyes
- Ringing in the ears
- Bright red skin
- Rapid, strong pulse
- High temperatures
If a resident begins to show signs of heat stroke, the staff should act immediately.
- Cool off the resident
- Remove all clothing
- Apply cold cloths
- Give a sponge bath
- Inform a physician
- Begin emergency treatment
- Transport to acute care facility immediately
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says heat-related illnesses in nursing home residents are mostly preventable. Keeping residents hydrated, and with adequate cooling and air condition supplies, and providing enough staff to care for them, will all be necessary steps for homes to take to prevent a heat stroke-related injury.
Illinois Nursing Homes Are Responsible for Following a Hot-Weather Plan
Lon-term care facilities should evaluate their ability to maintain a reasonably comfortable temperature inside the facility, especially as seasonal temperatures fluctuate and systems or equipment are not in use for a significant part of the year. During the summer months, especially in buildings without air conditioning or adequate cooling units, nursing home operators have to employ special measures to assure residents’ comfort and safety.
According to the Illinois Department of Health, an example of what a nursing home hot-weather plan should include starts with these steps.
- Procedures of monitoring residents for signs and symptoms of heat-related stress;
- Procedures for the relocation of residents to air-conditioned, or cooler areas, of the facility;
- Procedures for transfer of residents to other health care facilities during periods of acute heat stress;
- Procedures to monitor the physical environment of the facility (including temperature, humidity, sun screening, ventilation, etc.); and to recognize temperature and humidity values where the hot weather plan must be implemented.
- Procedures for substituting hot-weather menus for regular meals and for additional fluids to be provided to maintain proper hydration of residents.
To report a hot weather emergency inside an Illinois nursing home, contact the 24-hour nursing home hotline at 1-800-252-4343. Working closely with a lawyer is always advisable, and is the best way to protect the rights of your loved one.
Talk to A Chicago Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
If you have a family member who was not looked after appropriately by nursing home staff and suffered a heat-related injury or death, please contact our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys for a free consultation. You can call Levin & Perconti at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872 and one of our experienced nursing home lawyers in Illinois will be available to discuss your situation and concerns.