February 2, 2012

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed for Industrial Employee who Suffered Third Degree Burns at Work

In late December, the wife of an industrial worker who suffered fatal third degree burns when a steel ladle erupted and spewed molten steel on him, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her husband's employer and the manufacturers of the ladle.

Roxanne Moyer, individually and on behalf of her deceased husband, Samuel N. Moyer, filed suit against Siemens Vai Services et als, Signal Metal Industries Inc., Danieli Corp., North American Refractories Co. and Black Diamond Capital Management on December 30, 2011 in federal court in New Orleans, LA.

The incident occurred on February 1, 2011 while Samuel Moyer was working as a furnace second helper in the ArcelorMittal Laplace steel manufacturing mill. During the course of his regular job duties, a steel ladle erupted and spewed molten steel, which came into contact with Moyer. Two days later, he died from third degree burns he suffered during the incident.

Moyer's wife contends that the defendants are liable because the steel ladle, ladle transfer car, ladle stir plugs and nest block assembly were all unreasonably dangerous in design, construction, composition, and lack of warnings, and also because the products did not conform to an express warranty of the manufacturer.

The plaintiff is asking the court for an award of survival action damages for conscious physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses and wrongful death damages for loss of love, affection, services, and support, as well as infliction of grief, plus interest and court costs. A jury trial was requested.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

January 31, 2012

Three People Suffer Smoke Inhalation but Are Saved from Fire; Stored Gasoline to Blame

Near Chicago last month, three people--one of them a baby--were rescued from a basement fire. It is almost a miracle they survived after suffering smoke inhalation and falling unconscious before they could escape on their own.

The suburban Des Plaines Fire Department responded to a call about people trapped in a burning residence about 6:45 p.m. Firefighters were dispatched and arrived at the scene in about four minutes. They saw that most the flames and smoke were coming from the basement, so they moved into that area first and found three victims.

Two victims, a woman and a male baby, were unconscious. Firefighters removed them from the building and were able to resuscitate them before transferring them to an ambulance. The third victim, a woman, suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation.

The three victims were taken to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and all indications were that they would survive the ordeal. "Our guys arrived quickly and they did an outstanding job of locating the victims, getting them out, and resuscitating them," said the Des Plains fire chief. "It could very well have been a much worse tragedy." If it took one or two more minutes for firefighters to respond, all three victims would have died from smoke inhalation or third degree burns.

After an investigation, it was determined that a gasoline can was accidentally dropped down the basement stairs and caused the fire when a water heater ignited fumes coming from the can. The victims were renting the basement apartment, so it is not yet clear if the owner of the house has legal liability for injuries the victims suffered. If there was negligence in leaving the gas can near the stairs that led down to the water heater, then the victims could sue the landlord to compensate them for their injuries.

The lesson to be learned from this story is that containers which hold gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, or propane gas DO NOT belong in or near a house or apartment. Why? Because the fumes that come from even an empty container can catch fire from a nearby source of heat or flame--or even from a tiny spark of static electricity!

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

January 26, 2012

Ice Packs Can Cause Serious Burns

Ice packs are used sometimes to treat muscle strains or sprains in different parts of the body. These packs if incorrectly used, can cause skin burns which may vary from mild such as first degree burns or more severe such as second and third degree burns. Cold burns are caused by the prolonged contact with icy objects or snow, as well as the exposure to windy conditions. The burn is cause by a drop in the temperature of the skin in contact with the ice pack, this drop in temperature causes the water contained in the cells to freeze forming sharp ice crystals and damaging the surrounding cell structure. In addition the blood vessels located close to the skin start to constrict and when the skin and the underlying tissues are exposed to prolonged cold or extreme cold, the flow of blood to the affected areas will be greatly reduced leading to damage to these areas. (See also Frostbite)

One of the most common ways this can occur is through the application of the ice pack directly on the skin of the injured area. There are certain factors that may increase the incidence of cold induced burn injuries, these may include:

  • People who use medications that decrease the blood flow to the skin such as beta-blockers.
  • People with peripheral vascular disease which decrease the blood flow to the affected tissue.
  • People with peripheral neuropathy which decreases the ability to feel injuries.
  • Smoking and diabetes.
  • High velocity wind which increases the rate of heat loss from the skin.
  • People who are not well dressed for extremely cold temperature.
Clinical features of cold induced burn injuries including ice packs are:
  • Each individual may experience symptoms differently; the signs and symptoms depend on the severity.
  • Pins and needles sensation followed by tingling and numbness.
  • Redness and pain in the affected skin area.
  • Firm or waxy skin which is white and completely numb (a sign that tissues have started to freeze).
  • Skin blisters.
  • Very severe frost bite may cause gangrene (blackened, dead tissue) and damage to the deep structures such as muscles and nerves.
Treatment of ice pack burn:

You may notice having an ice pack burn if you start developing the signs and symptoms of cold induced injury such as developing blisters, feel burning, numb, itchiness and/or pain sensation in the affected area. The color of the affected skin may turn yellowish-gray. The affected area need to be re-warmed to stop the burn from becoming severe.

  • Warming process should be GRADUAL to avoid burning yourself and causing more damage to the skin. Soak the burned skin in warm water. The National Institute of Health suggests the temperature of water to be between 104 and 108 degree Fahrenheit for 20 minutes (never use hot water). You can use warm compresses or wrap yourself in blankets. Avoid massaging or moving the damaged area as this can cause the subcutaneous ice crystals in the tissue to move and cause more damage and avoid using direct dry heat to warm the affected area such as radiator or hair dryer as these areas are numb and can burn easily.
  • You may need to use pain killers, local antibiotic ointment and/or dressing depending on the condition of the wound.
You should seek medical attention if the burned area:
  • Doesn't begin to burn and/or tingle.
  • Remain numb with the skin white, cold and hard when you touch it.
  • Doesn't regain a pinkish complexion.
As these may be a signs of more severe damage of the blood vessels, nerves and muscles underneath the affected skin that may lead to gangrene.

How to avoid ice pack burns:

  • Use the correct size and style of ice pack on the affected area, more than one ice pack may be needed in large areas.
  • Put a barrier between your skin and the ice pack. You can use a thin folded hand towel or several layers of paper towels as a barrier. Using thick towels may keep the ice from affecting the area decreasing its benefit.
  • Small children and elderly people can suffer skin burns and damage quicker than adults because of their fragile skin therefore it's safer to use frozen vegetables as a source of cold as these vegetables will melt and become soft well before they can cause damage to the skin.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.


January 26, 2012

College Students Killed in Fire in a Rented Home--Is There Legal Liability for Their Deaths?

In Poughkeepsie, NY last week, a fire tore through a private home being rented by Marist College students near the campus. The fire killed killed two students and one former student. Four other people in the house escaped without serious injuries.

The off-campus house was being rented by six female Marist students. At about 1:30 a.m., the fire was initially reported to 911 by someone driving past the house. There were seven people in the house at that moment: four female residents and three male guests.

The local police chief said the occupants had gone to bed about an hour before the fire was called into authorities. "There was no issue that the occupants were aware of in the house when they went to bed," he said, basing his comments on interviews with the four survivors.

At least two of the occupants jumped through a window to safety after realizing that the house was engulfed in flames--which shows just how quickly this fire had spread. In fact, the first firefighters to respond to the emergency tried to get into the house, but were forced back by heat and flames.

One victim was found on the second floor of the house, one was downstairs and the third was under "considerable collapsed debris," the police chief said. The four survivors were taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released. They were treated for minor smoke inhalation and other minor injuries and were able to speak to police.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though the fire chief said the fire is believed to have started in the rear of the first floor. It is not yet know if the house had working smoke detectors.

There are lessons for all of us to learn from this tragedy.

First, everyone in a house should know where all the exits are--including windows--in the room where they will sleep. If a fire happens overnight, there are only seconds left to think and act. It is critical to know where the windows are in a room, because by the time people realize there is a fire, it might have spread too far through the house for occupants to safely escape through a door.

Second, if there is smoke in the air, you must immediately get down on the floor and move towards the door or window with your face as close to the floor as possible. During a fire, the cleanest, safest air to breathe is down at floor level. If you stand up, it takes only one or two breaths of smoky air (which is filled with poisonous gases such as hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide) to make you unconscious and unable to escape.

Third, occupants should make sure that there are working smoke detectors inside their house or apartment--it does not matter if the occupants own the place or rent it. While the owner of a house or apartment has the legal obligation to install smoke detectors, and would have legal liability if any occupant suffered third degree burns or smoke inhalation from a fire where there were no smoke detectors, the occupants should be proactive about fire safety too. So make sure there are smoke detectors near the kitchen and in the hallways near the bedrooms--and also make sure that each one has a working battery.

Smoke detectors save many lives each year--especially during overnight fires. So make it your job to have working smoke alarms inside the place where you live.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

January 24, 2012

A Free Smoke Detector Program is Born From Smoke Inhalation Deaths Suffered in a Tragic Fire

A family in Clinton, Iowa is teaming up with firefighters around the midwestern U.S. to turn a terrible tragedy into an educational program that will probably save many people from suffering deadly smoke inhalation or severe burns due to house fires.

Four members of the town's Molitor family--two young boys, their mother, and their grandmother--all died of smoke inhalation after a chair caught fire in their Clinton home two years ago. The most heartbreaking aspect is that this was a small fire, which started in a chair. Unfortunately, the burning chair generated a lot of smoke quickly, and the family members who stayed too long in the house (rather than evacuating immediately and calling 911 from outside) were overcome by smoke, fell unconscious, and died. It takes just one or two breaths of smoky air to make a person pass out. In fact, 70 percent of all fire deaths are from smoke inhalation, not burns.

Furthermore, "there was not a smoke detector in the house, and there wasn't even a heat detector," said one family member recently. "There was nothing to alert some of them until it was too late. That is the worst part about it--this tragedy could have been prevented."

But since the fire, the family and the Clinton Fire Department have found a way to use this great loss to help save others. "The best thing we could do was get that information out to the public so it doesn't happen to anyone else," says one local fire official. So the Clinton FD created the "smoke detector project" just days after the fire. They will provide a smoke detector to anyone who needs one, for free--they'll even install it.

In the last two years the Clinton FD has installed more than 2,500 smoke detectors, and their program is now being instituted across the state. Also, Iowa firefighters are working to create a national smoke detector project.

The best part: The local smoke detector project has already saved a number of lives, which makes the Molitor family's terrible loss a little easier to bear. "If one life was saved, that is more than enough for them to use our last name in publicizing the program," said one Molitor family member. "If a thousand lives can be saved, I'll say that my family members' lives were not lost in vain."

Iowa's Smoke Detector Project is organized by fire marshals from around the state. Other states around the country also have free smoke detector programs. For information on obtaining a free smoke detector, call your local fire department or type in the words "free smoke detector" plus the name of your state into www.Google.com.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

January 24, 2012

Occupational Therapy and Third Degree Burns

When the skin is burned, it may heal by forming scars depending on the severity of injury. The more severe the injury (third degree burns), the more likely to develop scars and contractures.The aim of occupational therapy is to prevent or minimize the scars and deformities that may result from the burn injury. (See preventing and dealing with scars)

Occupational therapy is a skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence. OT may be started while the patient is still in the hospital and may be continued after discharge.

Occupational therapists evaluate the patient's need for a splint, positioning (sitting, comfort in bed) and exercises. They institute diversional activities, teach activities of daily living, provide a home program of splinting and exercises before discharge and home visits (if the patient needs them) after discharge.

The patient plays a major role in the recovery process. It may be difficult in the beginning with the pain and stress associated with the exercises, but with time it will be easier. The more time spent following the program, the faster the healing process and the less scaring and deformities.

Occupational therapy may be hard in the beginning because of the pain that is associated with the burn and surgeries, the sensitivity of the skin and the fear that the patient may experience. With children, doing occupational therapy may be more difficult. Parents play an important role in encouraging the child, helping him/her with their therapy and praising them.

Some patients will be transferred to a rehabilitation center after discharge from the burn center to continue their rehabilitation. The duration and type of therapy will depend on the condition of the patient and the severity of the burn.

Patients may be discharged home with instruction to continue Occupational therapy at home; compression garments may be given and used with exercising.

Make sure to attend all outpatient follow up appointments with the burn clinic. Your physicians and therapists will monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

January 19, 2012

Study on Recovery from Smoke Inhalation Injury Produces Unexpected Results

A study by researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine generated some surprising findings about the response of the immune system in victims of severe burns and smoke inhalation.

Contrary to expectations, patients who died from their injuries had lower inflammatory responses in their lungs than the patients who survived. "Perhaps a better understanding of this early immune dysfunction will allow for therapies that further improve outcomes in burn care," researchers reported.

The study was published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Burn Care & Research. First author of the study was Christopher S. Davis, MD, MPH, a research resident in the Loyola Burn & Shock Trauma Institute. Assisting him was Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD, director of research of the Burn & Shock Trauma Institute.

Researchers followed 60 burn patients in the Loyola Burn Center. As expected, patients with the worst combined severe burn and smoke inhalation injuries required more time on a ventilator, in the intensive care unit, and in the hospital. They also were more likely to die. Also in line with expectations was this finding: Patients who died were older and had larger injuries on the whole than patients who survived.

But the immune system findings were not expected. Researchers measured concentrations of 28 immune system modulators in fluid collected from the lungs of patients within 14 hours of burn and smoke inhalation injuries. These modulators are proteins produced by white blood cells and other cells such as those that line a person's airway. Some of these modulators recruit white blood cells (leukocytes) to areas of tissue damage, or activate them to begin the repair process within damaged tissue.

Based on studies conducted at Loyola and other centers, researchers had expected to find higher concentrations of modulators in the fluid of patients who died, because sicker patients tend to have greater inflammatory responses. However, researchers found the opposite: Most patients who died had lower concentrations of these modulators in their lungs.

The question is this: Why do some patients mount robust immune responses in the lungs after smoke inhalation and burn injuries, while others do not? The reason may be due to a few things working together: age, genetics, differences in patients' pre-existing health conditions, or anything that might disrupt the balance between too much and too little inflammation.

Survival of severe burn patients has significantly improved since the 1950s, due to advancements such as better wound care and treatment and prevention of infections. But progress has somewhat stalled in the last 10 years.

The immune response to lung injury from smoke or burns "remains not completely understood, and additional effort is required to improve survival of burn-injured patients," researchers wrote.

The study was presented at the 2011 meeting of the American Burn Association, where it won the 2011 Carl A. Moyer Resident Award for the best study submitted by a resident physician. The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, International Association of Fire Fighters and the Dr. Ralph and Marian C. Falk Medical Research Trust.

Loyola's Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating more than 600 patients annually in the hospital, and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic. It is one of only two centers in Illinois that have received verification by the American Burn Association.

The study is among the results of research over the last several years conducted in Loyola's Burn Center and its Burn & Shock Trauma Institute, the latter of which is investigating the lung's response to burn and inhalation injuries.

January 19, 2012

Facial Scars

Burn injury may be severe and may involve any part of the body including the face. Facial scars are considered in general as a cosmetic problem, whether or not they are hypertrophic. There are several ways to reduce the appearance of facial scars. Often the scar is simply cut out and closed with tiny stitches, leaving a thinner less noticeable scar.

If the scar lies across the natural skin creases (or lines of relaxation) the surgeon may be able to reposition the scar using Z- Plasty to run parallel to these lines, where it will be less conspicuous.

Some facial scars can be softened using a technique called dermabration, a controlled scraping of the skin using a hand held high speed rotary wheel. Dermabration leaves a smoother surface to the skin but it won't completely erase the scar.

After scar revision:

With any kind of scar revision it's very important to follow your surgeon's instructions to make sure the wound heals properly. Although you may be up and about very quickly, your surgeon will advise you on gradually resuming your normal activities.

As you heal, keep in mind that no scar can be removed completely; the degree of improvement depends on:

  • The size of the scar
  • The direction of the scar
  • The nature and quality of your skin
  • How well you take care of the wound after the operation.
If your scar looks worse at first, don't panic because the final result of your surgery may not be apparent for a year or more.

As there are different methods of facial scar removal and each has its benefits and risks, you will want to schedule an appointment with a practitioner that specializes in facial scar removal before having the procedure completed because they will explain all these risks and benefits. You might also want to do your research on the practitioner that you choose because some are more experienced than others and you will want to choose the one that will provide you with the best results.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

January 17, 2012

Elevator Malfunction Causes Woman to Die from Third Degree Burns--Is There Legal Liability?

The death of a Chicago woman who stepped off an elevator in her apartment building--and into a blazing inferno--highlights the need for fire sensors in all elevators.

Shantel McCoy, 32, who was returning to her 12th-floor apartment on Lake Shore Drive, died from third degree burns to her skin plus lung burns after the elevator doors opened and she was hit with 1,500-degree air heated from gas and fire fumes coming from another apartment, according to a Chicago Fire Department spokesman. The fire apparently began inside an apartment on that floor--but although the residents managed to escape the apartment, the front door did not close behind them. This allowed the fire to spread into the hallway and heat the air throughout the floor to deadly temperatures. Nine other residents were injured in the blaze as well.

But the elevator accident never should have happened, says one longtime elevator-industry consultant. Charles Buckman notes that the United States' engineering safety code requires elevators to have fire sensors on every floor and in the motor room. But in this building, Buckman speculates that "they must not have been fitted with sensors."

In fact, the 21-story building, among Chicago's older high-rises, was not required to meet safety codes that were established in 1975, according to the city's building department spokesman. The high-rise was built sometime in the 1950s.

Chicago's city council recently voted to put off until 2015 the deadline for all buildings to comply with a new ordinance requiring building-wide alarm systems that automatically trigger elevators to descend to the ground floor and shut down.

Buckman, who works for consulting firm Doherty and Buckman of New Bern, North Carolina, says that even older buildings should be equipped with fire sensors that automatically shut down all elevators. "The elevator should not have been available to this lady" once a fire started, he says. "The elevators should have closed their doors, returned to the first floor and shut down so that no one could use them" once the sensors detected fire.

Having testified in numerous personal injury cases involving faulty elevators, Buckman has a harsh judgment this time: "In this case, somebody committed murder," he alleges.

The building's management company did not respond to requests for comment.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

January 17, 2012

Third Degree Burns and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur after the exposure to a traumatic event. People differ in their reaction to trauma; some will return back to normal after an exposure to a traumatic event, others will experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD develops differently from one person to another. Symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days that follow the traumatic event , but can also happens weeks, months, or even years after the incident.

PTSD is some what common. It can affect those who personally experience the trauma, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including law enforcement officers and emergency response workers. In the United States, 60% of men and 50% of women experience a traumatic event during their lifetimes. The diagnosis of PTSD was developed by studying soldiers from war, and it was originally called "shell shock syndrome."

Many events and life situations may lead to the development of PTSD, these include:

  • Exposure to severe burns such as third degree burns.
  • Military combat.
  • Sudden death of a loved one.
  • Sexual assault or physical attack in childhood or adulthood.
  • Exposure to terrorist attack.
  • Exposure to natural disasters such as earthquake.
  • Exposure to a serious accident.
PTSD can happen in adults as well as in children. The symptoms may rise suddenly, gradually or come and go over time. In adults, the symptoms may include:
  • Any reminder of the traumatic event will produce upsetting memories and intense physical reactions like rapid breathing, palpitation, nausea, sweating and muscle tension.
  • Having flashbacks, bad dreams (Re-living the events).
  • People try to avoid situations and things that trigger the traumatic event.
  • People isolate themselves from others and may feel emotionally numb, they may be less interested or lose interest in activities that they used to like.
  • People feel irritable, anxious, have anger outbursts.
  • Feeling that they are in constant danger.
  • Having difficulty in concentrating.
  • Having sleep difficulty.
  • Having nightmares.
  • Having depression.
  • Having suicidal feelings and thoughts.
Children may show symptoms of PTSD depending on their age, young children may have nightmares, sleeping problems, fear and upset if the parents are not nearby, regression in a previously trained child such as bed wetting, and toilet training trouble.

Some people will develop PTSD after a trauma while others won't; people will have increased the risk of developing PTSD if:

  • The person was seriously injured as a result of the trauma.
  • The person was the one who was exposed directly to the trauma.
  • The trauma was long lasting.
  • The person was not in control during the event.
  • The person had a previous mental issue.
  • The person had a history of prior severe trauma.
  • The person doesn't get that much help and support after the trauma.
Treatment:
  • Counseling (talk therapy): this is one of the methods of treatment in which the person can get help and discuss his/her feeling that will help to get to normal life activities. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of treatment that helps is promising and is the most effective in counseling. Family therapy may be effective too as PTSD not only affect the patient him/herself but those who are close to the patient, this therapy help the family understand what the patient is going through and communicate better with him/her.
  • Medications: in the form of antidepressant medications.
Other diseases and conditions may occur with PTSD such as depression, panic attacks, drug and alcohol abuse.
  • The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome as symptoms of PTSD may get worse.
  • Seek medical help if you or your child has symptoms of PTSD.
  • Seek help and support from your family or your close friends, they may be able to help and support you.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.


January 13, 2012

Third Degree Burns from Scalding Water is Too Common Among Children, Seniors and the Elderly

Back in August 2011, a grandmother's summer holiday at a luxury seaside hotel in Great Britain ended in tragedy when she was scalded to death in a hot bath.

Unfortunately, severe burns from scalding hot water happen too often among children and seniors alike. The worst part is that these incidents are almost always preventable.

Evelyn Cowley, 88 years old, was enjoying her annual family holiday when she took a bath in her hotel room. But for some reason, she immersed herself in water that had a temperature of more than 120 degrees Farenheit. As a result, she suffered third degree burns to half her body, mostly to her lower limbs and her back and arms.

Cowley was no ordinary senior citizen. She was a decorated RAF officer, who served during the Second World War. She died in the hotel room's bath at some point between saying goodnight to her two sons and breakfast time the next morning. Her son came to wake her in the morning and heard the bathtub water still running, then found her dead in the tub.

The water coming into the tub had been heated in the hotel's boiler to 140 degrees-which is much too hot for human contact--and the water came out of the tap at around 125 degrees, said a hotel spokesperson. But he added that heating the water to that temperature was a precaution to stop the spread of Legionnaires' disease--an often deadly form of pneumonia caused by a specific bacteria that grows quickly in stored hot water.

Two days after Cowley's death, an investigator recorded a temperature 130 degrees from water running from the bath's tap. He said: "I could only hold my hand under for about two seconds." The investigation also found that there was not a warning sign for the hot water posted in the bathroom. The hotel did note, however, that this was not a legal requirement.

An autopsy showed Cowley died as a result of extensive burns, which could have been caused as a result of her dementia. The local coroner said: "She died accidentally, and dementia could have caused her misjudgement of immersing herself into the water."

The coroner also said it was possible that she suffered a mini-stroke when she entered the hot water, but tests were inconclusive.

The lesson here is that seniors and the elderly, as well as children, must be closely monitored when they are going to use hot water to bathe or to cook. It is very easy to spill scalding hot water onto the skin when handling it, and the burns can be so severe that skin graft is necessary to heal the wounds--and death is certainly possible too.

If you or someone you know does suffer an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

January 12, 2012

Third Degree Burns and Infection

Infection remains the most common complication of burn wounds, it's a major cause of death among burned patients. It can happen in the hospital or at home; it can be local (at the site of burn) or systemic (the spread of infection to other areas of the body).

As the skin plays an important role in protecting the body against infection and acts as a barrier that prevents Microbs from entering the body, the risk of infection increases when a burn injury happens.
Risk factors of developing a burn wound infection many include:

  • The extent of burn, burns exceeding 30% of the total body surface area (TBSA) are at higher risk.
  • The depth of burn, full thickness burns (third degree) are at higher risk.
  • The location of burn, burns in the perineum are at higher risk of infection.
  • The age of the patient, extremes of age are at higher risk because of lower immunity.
  • The general condition of the patient, amonge conditions that increase the risk of infection are immunosuppression, obesity, diabetes and malnutrition.
  • The type of organisims, their number and virulence.
  • The quality of wound care provided for the patient.
  • Duration of hospitalisation and number of days ventilated.
The incidence of infection and its mortality has significantly decreased due to the improvements in the techniques of burn wound care and infection control mesures. When infection happens, it can cause the wound to progress from a partial thickness (e.g second degree burns) to a full thickness (e.g third degree burns), can prevent or delay healing, can encourage scar formation and can result in septicemia and organ failure.

Burn wounds should be inspected daily for signs of infection especially in pediatric age group as they sometimes can't express their feelings of being unwell.

Warning signs of infection may include:

  • Increased or persistant pain.
  • Increased redness in or around the wound.
  • Increased swelling in or around the wound.
  • Increased drainage from the wound.
  • Change in the color of drainage (green discharge or puss).
  • Foul smell from the wound.
  • Increased warm feeling from the wound.
  • Bleeding from the wound between dressing change, or soaking the bandage with blood, unless there has been a trauma (remember that bleeding at the time of dressing change itself may be expected).
  • Chills or fever greater than 101.4 degrees. Burned patients should check their tempreture daily.
  • Complete loss of appetite.
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea.
Helpfull tips in preventing wound infection:.
  • Keep the burned area clean.
  • Look for any signs or symptoms of infection during dressing change.
  • Follow a strict sterile protocol during wound dressing change (see home wound care).
  • It's important in infants to observe any change in the appearance of wound or change in activity level (not playful, fails to hold eye contact, lethargic) children can't express what they feel. Contact the doctor immediately if you observe any sign or symptom of infection.
  • Topical antibiotic ointments may be prescribed as a prophylactic (preventive) measure in burned patients.
  • Infection delays wound healing, encourages scarring (as a result of collagen deposition in reaction to the infection) and may result in bacteremia and organ failure (systemic infection).

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

January 11, 2012

How to Care for Your Child After Being Discharged Home (Part II)

Itching:
Itching occurs with healing and newly healed burned areas. Itching can be a major problem for some children when they are in the hospital as well as after being discharged home. Itching is caused by the overlapping tissues formed by the scar itself. This tissue lack the nerve endings that is present in normal skin but due to the surrounding normal tissue that still has nerve endings, they become stimulated by scar tissue thus the characteristic itch kicks in. Itching should decrease as scar tissue matures. Itching can disturb or even prevent your child's sleeping. Although it's hard, try to prevent your child from scraching the burned areas as these areas are still raw (immature) and may bleed easily or get infected with continous or vigorous scraching.
Among the things that help in decreasing your child's itching are:

  • Keeping the burned area lubricated by applying cream and massage the burned areas on a regular basis.

  • Wearing loose clothes made of natural materials such as 100% cotton with light colors.

  • Avoiding clothes or elastics over the clothes like waistbands.

  • Avoiding your child of prespiring and becoming hot.

  • Encourage your child to wear compression garments as prescribed. Compression (pressure) garments must be worn 23 hours a day and taken off only when bathing your child.

  • Clip your child's fingernails regularly, there are certian gloves that your child can wear to prevent him/her from scraching the burned area.

  • Tell your child whenever possible to elevate the affected area.

  • If itching becomes severe or prblematic for your child, please call your doctor as he/ she may prescribe medications that can help with itching.


  • Applying lotion or cream:
    Healing burn wounds as well as skin grafts, donor sites and scars all require creaming on a regular basis to prevent these areas from becoming dry, becoming sore and cracking. The reason for that is because the healing and newly healed skin is unable to lubricate itself in the same way as the normal skin does.

    These are some helpful tips regarding applying lotions or creams on your child's affected areas:

  • Apply the lotion or cream as often as needed, follow the instructions given to you, this should be repeated 2-3 times a day. It may be needed more often if the your child's skin is particularly dry.

  • Use enough lotion or cream to lightly lubricate your child's skin. Gently rub and massage the cream until it disappears, the skin shouldn't feel greasy after putting the lotion rather it should feel moist and soft.

  • Massage involves firm pressure in circular waves over the scar.

  • Avoid using lotions or creams recommended by your friends or family, also avoid using lotions or creams containing chemicals or perfumes as healing and newly healed skin is very sensitive and can be damaged by the wrong lubricant.

  • It's important that you cleanse your child's skin every day as the build up of lotion or cream may cause skin irritation and clog the skin pores. Excessive lotions or creams can also damage pressure garments


  • This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

    January 10, 2012

    Fire in Stores or Malls Can Cause Deadly Smoke Inhalation

    Here's a story that provides a very good lesson for all of us on the need to think about fire safety not just at home, but also when walking around in stores, malls, and other public places.

    In early January in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, four people had to be treated for smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in a store. A clothing shop caught fire at about 8:15 p.m. on a Friday night, and firefighters were called away from a small fire in another neighborhood to fight the shop fire.

    On arrival, fire crews found the fire was already extinguished. But even so, there were people in need of medical treatment, so paramedics were called in. Two ambulances and a rapid response vehicle were sent to treat three females who suffered smoke inhalation. They were taken to Peterborough City Hospital for further care.

    Now, it is unlikely that many people think about where the nearest public exits or emergency exits are located when they enter a store, or a mall, or a sports arena, or another public place. But if you do not know where the exits are located, you have shortened the amount of time you have to escape and survive if a fire does break out.

    So, always find the nearest public exit or emergency exit as you enter any building. Why? Because fire smoke spreads quickly, and is so poisonous with carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide that inhaling just one or two breaths of fire smoke can make a person unconscious and unable to escape. And even if an unconscious person is rescued by someone else, damage to the lungs, heart and brain from smoke inhalation can be permanent, forever changing a person's life.

    If you or someone you know does suffer an injury such as third-degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

    January 10, 2012

    How to Care for Your Child After Being Discharged Home (Part I)

    Burn injuries are not only devestating for the patient but for the whole family. A common question the parents ask, is for how long their child will be hospitalized in the hospital. When the time comes, the Burn team will begin planning for discharge. The case manager or the social worker assined to the patient will assist with coordinating discharge plans. Among the things discharge plan deal with is, caring for the child at home, potential complications , follow up appointments and refferals if the child need them.
    Caring for your child at home involves the following:

    Medications:
    Mnay burned children are discharged home with several medications. Before leaving the hospital make sure to ask any question you have about the medication of your child, you should know how to give these medications, when and for how long, what are they used for, and what are the side effects that may happen as a result of using these medications. Continue giving these medications as described by the treating physician even if you think that your child is feeling well and if you have any concern or question, don't hesitate to call the treating physician.

    Diet:
    A well balanced diet with a lot of fluids is necessary for the healing process. Start your child with small frequent meals. See also nutrition and burns.

    Activity:
    An important part of well being and recovery is to help your child engage in light activity as soon as possible. It's normal for your child in the begining to feel weakness and fatigue as he/she has been in the hospial for a period of time without using the muscles but this will improve with time. Activity help in increasing the circulation (blood supply), decrease scaring, improve contractures, and prevent the loss and improve muscle strength. Follow the instructions given to you by the burn team. Some chilren may need to be reffered to physical therapy and/or occupational therapy as needed, they may get these services at home. Make sure that your child aviods all strenuous activities and contact sports until cleared by the treating physician. See preventing and dealing with scars.

    Changing dressings:
    An important part of the burn care is dressings as they protect the burn wound from injury, keep ointments or creams on the wound and absorb any fluid or discharge drawn out of the wound. You play an important role in observing dressing condition and dressing change. The burn team before discharge will teach you how to change your child's dressing, how often and for how long. Dressing change may be frightening and painful for your child, it's better to give pain your child pain medication 30 minutes before dressing change.

    This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.