23. Patient death or serious disability associated with a burn incurred from any source while being cared for in a health care facility
Scalding beverages and hot soaks cause most thermal injuries hospitals and nursing homes. Sometimes flash fires occur from lighting a match or cigarette lighter in a room with a high concentration of oxygen. The preventive safety protocols are simple; measure the temperature of all heated liquids and do not bring it to the patient if the temperature is more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. However, such accidents occur with astounding regularity because there is no accountability for such wanton carelessness.
Regarding flash fires, the nurses owe a duty to the patient to search for and remove all lighters, matches and flammable liquids such as rubbing alcohol in all rooms. The failure to do so should be tantamount to criminal negligence as the danger is obvious.
24. Patient death or serious disability associated with a fall in a health care facility
Patients fall every day in virtually every hospital and nursing facility. The current standards of care require that every patient receive a fall risk assessment and that interventions for prevention be in place depending on the level of risk. The health care managers resign themselves to believing that not all falls are preventable and they have a legal defense when they can show that the patient fell despite the exercise of reasonable precautions. Once health care management develops a zero tolerance for falls, then all falls can become preventable. The only way to prevent almost all falls is to have one person sitting with each patient at all times. A staff of volunteers could be utilized to perform sitter services. There is no shortage of volunteers in most areas as all high school students need a certain number of community service hours to graduate and there plenty of people given the opportunity for community service in lieu of jail time for minor offenses. Therefore, the PSA should mandate that volunteers be assigned to every patient unit to perform safety precaution services to prevent falling.