Illinois nursing homes should be on high alert after the recent possible heat-related death of an elderly Milwaukee nursing home resident. With summer temperatures heating up, elderly nursing home residents are likely to experience serious health complications. Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys know that seniors are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. Nursing and group homes have a duty to protect their residents during hot weather. When heat-related illnesses occur, wrongful death lawsuits can help hold negligent nursing homes accountable.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting the tragic death of 69-year-old Martin Belkin, who died during a record heat wave at the Sunrise Care Center in Milwaukee earlier this week. Nursing home staff inadequately failed to supervise the elderly resident and left him outside for more than three hours as temperatures soared to 97 degrees. The nursing home is conducting its own investigation, but health officials believe the death was heat-related. Just a few hours after his death, Belkin had a body temperature of 101.4 degrees.
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With rising temperature and humidity levels expected to continue, Illinois nursing homes need to take extra precautions. Seniors are prone to heat stress because many of them are on medications, such as diuretics, that prevent their bodies from naturally cooling off. Some Parkinson’s drugs inhibit perspiration, and chronic medical conditions like diabetes change the way the body responds to heat. Even a short time in the sun can lead to serious health problems. Heat stroke is one of the most serious heat-related illnesses, often resulting in death or serious permanent injury. Nursing home staff should be trained to recognize warning signs, such as quickly rising body temperatures, dizziness, and nausea. Other signs of heat stress include a rapid heartbeat, throbbing headache, breathing problems, and vomiting.
Heat-related nursing home deaths are preventable and should never occur. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities should employ enough staff to meet resident’s needs, or dangerous consequences will result. Inadequate supervision is likely to blame for the Milwaukee nursing home death. Residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are also more likely to wander off when staff members are negligent. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers are aware of several instances in which nursing home residents wandered off and suffered dehydration or heat stroke. Abuse and neglect of elderly nursing home residents is against the law, and injured residents are entitled to compensation.
Illinois nursing homes also have a duty to provide residents with a safe living environment. The law requires them to maintain comfortable and safe temperature levels. A contingency plan must also be in place to protect residents when air conditioning is not available. The former owner of a Detroit group recently plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a case that involved the 2008 deaths of two residents whose room temperature reached 90.5 degrees. This nursing home litigation shows the serious risk of injury or death our vulnerable seniors face during hot summer months.
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Poorly run, understaffed nursing homes always present a risk of danger to elderly residents, especially when temperatures increase. Heat-related illnesses are preventable with appropriate care. Failing to ensure that residents are safe in hazardous temperature levels is negligence, and an experienced Illinois nursing home attorney can help injured residents and their families collect damages.