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I recently had a case of an adult disabled woman who was mentally and physically impaired – very impaired. She was in an assisted living facility that was licensed by the Department of Social Services, and that facility had poor Safety Awareness.  Their facility was staffed lean and mean.

At some point, they had cameras monitoring patients, but someone, we don’t know who removed them. One day my client was in the kitchen of the facility where the staff was preparing boiling water for tea. Unfortunately, the tea kettle was missing so they were boiling water on the stove in a pan. My mentally and physically impaired and disabled client took the boiling pan of water and drank it.

She had scalding burns down her face and in internally in her throat. And, of course, she had to be hospitalized for a significant amount of time. The nursing facility tried to argue that it was her own fault – what sane person tries to drink boiling hot water, right? That was complete nonsense! She wasn’t sane, of course, which is why she was in the facility in the first place. She wasn’t able to take care of herself; she needed someone’s help, and that help was missing during a crucial moment.

Scalding burns are hardly isolated events – they usually happen routinely in certain facilities.

In another case, a facility failed to have temperature gauges for their showers, and someone accidentally set the temperature to scalding hot. A resident went in. They were given a shower and the scalding hot water burned them over half their body.

There are many ways in which scalding burns can manifest, but it’s always a product of neglect. When someone fails to accurately set the temperature before a disabled elderly person takes a shower, that’s neglect. When boiling water is left in a kitchen purportedly with nobody watching a mentally and physically disabled person such that they have access to it, that’s also neglect.

In that particular case, as I mentioned, the cameras were all removed so there’s no record, and you can hardly ask a mentally and physically disabled person to provide an account. But either way, I don’t need a camera to tell me what happened when patients are seriously injured from water scalding in nursing facilities. There’s no excuse.

There is no excuse.