Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorney
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Burn & Scald Injuries Can Result From Nursing Home Neglect

Doctor treating a burn injury on a nursing home resident.

Facilities need adequate staffing and precautions to protect residents

Nursing home residents, because of their age and medical conditions, are vulnerable to a wide variety of injuries. Some of the most painful and devastating injuries elderly people can sustain are burn and scald injuries. That's why protecting residents from burn risks is one of a nursing home's most important responsibilities.

Unfortunately, too many facilities fail to meet that responsibility, and the consequences for residents can be devastating. If your loved one sustained a burn or scald injury due to nursing home neglect or abuse, you need to talk to an experienced nursing home neglect attorney right away.

Types of burn injuries

Burn injuries are classified by their severity. There are four degrees of burn injuries:

  • First-degree burns, also known as superficial burns, affect only the outer layer of skin. These burns can be quite painful but generally don't cause long-lasting damage.
  • Second-degree burns, or partial thickness burns, involve both the outer layer and part of the lower layer of skin. Second-degree burns look red, blistered, and often swollen and painful.
  • Third-degree or full-thickness burns destroy both layers of the skin, reaching the subcutaneous tissue. Third-degree burns may appear white or blackened and charred. There is a high risk of infection and other complications.
  • Fourth-degree burns extend below the skin, damaging deeper tissues like muscle and bone. A fourth-degree burn usually deserves nerve endings, so there is no feeling in the affected area.

Burn injuries can happen to anyone, but nursing home residents are especially vulnerable because of the effects of aging on the skin, and because they may need assistance with activities that involve a risk of burn injury. Furthermore, nursing home residents' bodies heal more slowly and are more vulnerable to complications such as infections.

The role of negligence in scalding injuries

Scalding is a type of thermal burn caused by heated fluids, such as water or steam. In nursing homes, the most common cause of scalding injuries is leaving residents unattended in the bath or shower. At 120 degrees Fahrenheit, water can cause second-degree burns after just eight minutes and third-degree burns minutes after that. Heating the water to dangerous levels can also dramatically increase the risk of burns: at 150 degrees, second-degree burns can happen in seconds, and third-degree burns shortly afterward.

Nursing home residents can also be scalded by hot beverages, such as coffee, that are spilled during mealtimes. In fact, beverages can be more dangerous in some respects because a resident's clothing can trap the hot liquid close to the skin, causing burns to become worse.

Other burn hazards in nursing homes

In addition to liquids, nursing home residents can be injured by hot surfaces such as cooking surfaces, dishes, radiators, and appliances. Residents who are unsupervised while engaging in dangerous activities, such as smoking, can also be burned.

As in any other building, accidental fires can occur in nursing homes if fire hazards are not promptly and properly addressed. Nursing homes need to properly maintain their smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, provide residents with appropriate fire-safety equipment such as blankets and aprons, keep doorways and walkways clear of hazards, and have an evacuation plan and sufficient staff to execute it properly to minimize the danger to residents.

Burn injuries can also be a sign of deliberate abuse in some instances. Such intentionally inflicted injuries can include scalds, friction burns from restraints, and cigarette burns.

If your loved one was burned in a nursing home, we can help

Burns and scalds are dangerous for anyone, but they can be especially devastating to nursing home residents. Nursing homes have a responsibility not only to prevent residents from being injured in the first place but also to promptly and appropriately address any burn injuries when they do occur. Unfortunately, too many facilities fail to meet those responsibilities, and residents can be seriously harmed or even killed. If that happened to your family, you deserve justice.

Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C. in Birmingham has extensive experience standing up for Alabama nursing home residents and their families. We will get to the bottom of what happened and work hard to hold the facility accountable. If your loved one was burned in a nursing home, contact us today for a free consultation.

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