Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable to hypothermia, frostbite, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Both age and chronic or terminal illnesses increase the risk of suffering effects as a result of extreme heat or cold.
Nursing home residents may also take medication that can lead to dehydration, force them to rely on caregivers for water, or have other risk factors for heatstroke or hypothermia. These conditions are the reason there are strict rules requiring long-term care facilities to maintain safe temperatures. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services monitors the plans every nursing home has in place to ensure safe temperatures.
Some Lawmakers Are Pushing for Updated Standards
Since 1990, federal law requires all nursing homes and long-term care facilities to maintain a “safe and comfortable” temperature throughout the residential areas of their facilities. The allowable range is 71 to 81 degrees.
However, the Minority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance recommended updating this standard and handed down in a 2018 report titled “Sheltering in Danger.” They believe the range should consider heat index instead of ambient temperature, because of the effect that humidity can have on seniors.
This report came after a 2017 incident when a dozen residents died from heat-related complications in a Florida nursing home following Hurricane Irma. The facility lost power during the storm, and its backup generator did not power the air conditioning units. The temperature rose from around 81 degrees with a heat index of 85 before the storm to a high temperature of 90 and a heat index of 99 after the storm.
There are Questions About the Disaster Preparedness of Many Nursing Homes
As a part of their 2018 report, Senators cited federal and state regulators for failing to ensure the residents of nursing homes are safe during hurricanes and other natural disasters, as well as during other events that cause extreme temperatures.
The senate inquiry demanded clarification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about how nursing homes should prepare for these events and how they must maintain safe temperatures, even during bad weather and emergency situations. While CMS promised to respond, the report also called for tougher disaster preparedness standards.
As of 2019, CMS and state agencies require each facility to have this type of plan and ensure the plan meets current standards. However, CMS admits that many facilities do not have adequate plans. According to The New York Times, about a quarter of facilities surveyed since 2016 have received citations for problems with their disaster preparedness plan.
It May Be Neglect if Your Nursing Home Fails to Maintain a Safe Temperature
If you or a loved one resides in a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or other long-term care facilities, and you suffered injuries related to unsafe temperatures during a power outage, you may be eligible to take legal action. Nursing homes have an obligation to provide all necessary care and ensure their residents do not suffer preventable injuries.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two examples of preventable injuries you might suffer because of neglect on the part of nursing home administrators. You should not have to pay for the expenses or shoulder the losses related to these conditions if the nursing home failed to protect you during a power outage. Instead, the facility administration should be responsible. These expenses include:
- Medical care and related costs.
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries or treatment.
- Pain and suffering losses.
- Other damages based on the facts of your case.
- Wrongful death damages, if your family member passed away as a result of this type of injury.
Talk to a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Today About Your Case
If you or a loved one sustained injuries because of unsafe temperatures during a power outage at your nursing home, you may be able to take action against the facility’s administrators. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we take on even the toughest cases.
We handle nursing home abuse and neglect cases on a contingency-fee-basis. You never pay us anything out of pocket, and we do not get our attorney’s fees until we recover an award or settlement for you. We only get paid if you get a payout.
Call (800) 842-6336 today to discuss the facts of your case and to learn more about your rights with one of our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys.