The health and wellbeing of nursing home residents can be greatly affected by temperatures that are either too high or too low. Nursing homes care for some of society’s most vulnerable citizens. They are required by law to maintain a temperature range between 71 and 81 degrees for the comfort and wellbeing of their residents. Many mental and physical health issues can be affected by temperature, and a federally mandated temperature index can help control these issues.
Elder Care Services
We expect nursing homes and eldercare facilities to treat our elderly loved ones with the professionalism, compassion, knowledge, and expertise needed to ensure that their mental and physical wellbeing are preserved. As is true for many industries that deal with or care for sensitive populations, nursing home operations and services are governed by comprehensive rules and regulations that aim to limit the risks that residents are exposed to.
Nursing homes are required by Title 42 of the Public Health Code of Federal Regulations and Chapter 38 of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations to meet very specific services provision criteria. These include freedom from abuse and exploitation, access to physician services, infection control, laboratory and pharmacy services, food and nutrition, and emergency preparedness. These rules are typically applied to nursing homes, adult day health care institutions, and state homes for veterans.
Examples of some of what nursing homes must provide their residents with include the following:
- Access to the contact information of advocacy groups and abuse agencies.
- Access to stationery, postage, and the ability to send and receive mail. Access to telephones and the internet are included here as well.
- The right to secure and confidential personal and medical records.
- A safe, clean, and comfortable environment.
- Housekeeping and food and drink services.
- Private closet space.
- Comfortable sound levels.
These rules and laws also require nursing homes to maintain interior temperatures between 71 and 81 degrees. Health issues involving patients suffering from shivers, fever, dehydration, or excessive cold in nursing homes are all too common. To streamline rules and implement standards, Title 42 was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to protect the wellbeing of the elderly, many of whom could potentially suffer if temperature standards were not set.
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Beyond air temperature, air quality at nursing homes must also be maintained. Excessive heating or cooling can lead to air that contains too much moisture, contains too little moisture, irritates the lungs, or contains harmful substances such as mold, mildew, or vapors from toxic cleaners.
Health Issues Related to Temperature
Temperatures that are either too high or too low can lead to the following health problems with the elderly residents of nursing homes:
- A loss of consciousness
- Muscle cramps
- Hot, dry, or cold and clammy skin
- Hypo- or hyperthermia – abnormally low or high body temperature
Beyond rules that govern temperature settings in nursing homes, there are also strict rules governing how issues are to be identified and who are to be held responsible for problems arising from temperatures that are either too high or too low. There are even rules that dictate what to do–for example, where to relocate residents–if temperatures cannot be maintained at safe and comfortable levels.
Identifying Service Breaches
There are many ways you can identify a breach of services involving temperature settings and air quality in a nursing home. Here are a few examples.
- When you visit, does the home feel either too warm or too cold?
- Are constant temperatures maintained in different parts of the facility?
- Does your loved one complain about excessive heat or cold?
- Does your loved one have the right clothing for warm or cold weather? Is such clothing needed inside the home?
- Do other residents seem to be exhibiting discomfort from the interior temperature?
- Are visible air filters and vents clean? Do they seem to be maintained and serviced?
If you have reason to believe that there may be issues involving the temperature setting or the maintenance of temperature in your loved one’s nursing home, you may wish to speak with a member of staff, the head of patient services, or the administrator to discuss the issue. If all else fails, you may have to reach out to local authorities by, for example, calling 911 or contacting a long-term care ombudsman for assistance with filing a complaint or negotiating services provision with the nursing home.
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Contact Us for Legal Assistance
An attorney may be able to assist you with nursing home issues–including accidents, personal injuries, illnesses, and discomfort–that arise from a failure to maintain federally mandated interior temperatures. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC can be reached at (800) 959-1444, and we can help you with issues involving a nursing home failing to maintain a temperature range between 71 and 81 degrees. Please call today for a free case evaluation. We take cases on a contingency fee basis and you pay nothing unless you win your case.