Recently in Burns in Geriatrics Category

February 28, 2012

Burns in Geriatrics

A geriatric is a person who is older than 65 years. The geriatric population is increasing in developed countries due to the improvement of services and quality of life.

Flames and scalds are the leading cause of burns in geriatrics. Risk factors that may contribute to burn injury in elderly people include:


  • Living alone.

  • Decrease in the level of mobility.

  • Decreased supervision of elderly people.

  • Decreased smell and decreased reaction time.

All degrees of burns can happen (First, Second and Third), but there are risk factors that may increase the severity of the burn which may include:

  • The presence of chronic diseases such diabetes.

  • Atrophy (thinning) of the skin and subcutaneous fat.

  • Nutritional deficiency.

  • Cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.


With age, the skin becomes thin with decreased vascularity, making elderly people more liable for deep burns as well as decreased wound healing.

Elderly people have increased risk to develop contractures due to a higher percentage of deep burns. When the burn is deep a skin graft may be needed and as the skin thins with aging this will lead to a poor donor site as well as difficulty in healing for both the donor and the recipient site.

Elderly patients require more rehabilitation and the long term disability is greater due to the presence of the risk factors that may increase the severity of burn.

Elderly people should always make sure that the smoke detector is working, that there is someone that can be contacted easily in case of an emergency; and they are careful when cooking and handling hot objects.

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.

December 23, 2011

Another Elderly Victim Who Found the Strength to Survive Her Severe Burns

A week ago, we wrote about a 70-year-old woman who fought through physical and psychological trauma she suffered from receiving third degree burns--and fought so well that she was able to walk again, and do many things on her own, even tough doctors never thought it would be possible.

Well, we have an even more unbelievable burn survivor story to share with you. Last month in the Morning Sun newspaper serving central Michigan, a writer chronicled the experience of Evelyn Clark, a 79-year-old who was burned in a gasoline fire in July 2011 and nearly died a few times since then. But Evelyn has recovered, and she spent what she calls "an extra special" Thanksgiving with her husband Jim, plus her children and her grandchildren at her home in Weidman, Michigan.

After being burned outside her home while pouring just a bit of gasoline in a barrel to start a controlled fire, Evelyn was rushed to at Spectrum Health Butterworth Campus in Grand Rapids. She suffered third degree burns on nearly 30 percent of her body, and then she developed pneumonia and another life-threatening condition while she was undergoing more than one skin graft.

Her daughter Colleen knew the burns were very bad when her mother declined pain medication--because her nerves were burned away, so she was feeling no pain. This is a very bad sign.

Evelyn does not remember much after arriving at Spectrum, where she was showered to remove dead skin. Then, donated skin was used to cover Evelyn's burns until skin grafts could be taken from her legs. "Thank goodness for people who are willing to donate organs, even skin," Colleen said. "The body rejects it but it serves its purpose [until the skin heals]."

Evelyn had burns on her right arm, chest and face. She was hospitalized for six weeks, and at one point was not expected to live because she contracted methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that causes infections that are very hard to treat. Then, pneumonia set in.

Evelyn was put on a ventilator and taken to intensive care for five days. all throughout her hospital stay, though, Evelyn received not just the support of her family but also more than 150 cards from well-wishers, which is important for the psychological aspect of healing from burn wounds.

Fortunately, once Evelyn was placed on strong antibiotics, she started to recuperate and in a few days was out of intensive care and back in a room in the burn unit.

After spending several days in the hospital, physicians performed skin grafts, which were very painful, Evelyn said.

After being released from Spectrum, Evelyn spent 10 days at Masonic Pathways in Alma in rehabilitation. Once Evelyn went home, doctors told Colleen that Evelyn recovered because she is active and in good physical condition--and because she had people around her to keep her in a positive frame of mind.

Evelyn is thankful that she is still alive and that her family, friends, and local churches stood by her, and is thankful for all the prayers that were offered. She is now taking water aerobics classes and has become famous in the town.

If you or someone you know does suffer a severe burn injury or a smoke inhalation injury, 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 solid legal case.

December 14, 2011

A Burn Survivor's Story Shows That Even the Most Severe Burns Can Be Overcome


In mid-November, at story in the Gaston Gazette from North Carolina covered the long, very painful, but ultimately successful recovery of Lucille Camp. Lucille is a 70-year-old woman who found the inner strength to survive and even modestly recover from third degree burns she suffered across half her body nearly three years ago.

Today, Lucille can stand from her wheelchair to take crutches and, with help from her daughter Sandy Johnson and nurse Judy Tate, slowly walk across a room. Johnson said her mother's fierce determination has kept her alive and improving since being caught in a house fire in January 2009. When that happened, Lucille was taken to the Wake Forest Burn Center in Winston-Salem, where doctors told the family that she wouldn't make it through the first 24 hours.

Lucille not only survived, but she has continued to amaze doctors with her small improvements over time. But her recovery has not been steady, and it is very trying not just physically but psychologically. The assistance of workers from Palliative Care Cleveland County, a local group, has been essential to Lucille's progress.

Palliative care services manage the pain, suffering, and stress of serious injury or illness, and the palliative care team works with a patient's own doctor to move the patient through the health-care system as the patient needs different treatments from different doctors and facilities

One problem Lucille's primary physician had was controlling her pain without making Lucille too sleepy or disoriented. The doctor asked the palliative care team to help with symptom management. Another set of eyes can help."

Lucille's daughters stay with their mother at night. During the day, nurses from Health and Home Services in Gastonia, NC take turns staying with Lucille. Their brother, Donnie Camp, keeps the house running by making repairs as needed, and Lucille's husband of 45 years, Claude, provides constant support and encouragement.

When Lucille has a physical problem, the palliative care team is a phone call away and makes a house call if necessary. And though Lucille sometimes doesn't like the doctor's orders, she complies after the doctor explains why it's necessary. For instance, the doctor said at one point that because Lucille had contracted pneumonia, she had to stop eating by mouth until she got stronger, or else risk choking on her food. Lucille had to be fed with an intravenous tube for several weeks, but eventually got back her ability to swallow safely.

"I have an open relationship with Lucille that has helped her to understand that I will not give her things that will make her unsafe," the doctor says.

Lucille knows that her doctors have helped her get stronger, and be able to live longer than many thought she would three years ago. "I have come a long way since I've got my doctor," Lucille said. "I thank God for all my nurses and my doctors and my family."

If you or someone you know does suffer a severe burn injury or a smoke inhalation injury, 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 solid legal case.

March 24, 2011

Smoking in Bed: Some People Don't Learn Until They Are Burned


On March 20, the Chicago Sun Times reported that two people were injured when a fire started in an apartment at a Chicago Housing Authority senior citizens building. One person suffered minor smoke inhalation, but an elderly man suffered second- and third-degree burns, all because of a cigarette that touched a mattress and caused it to catch fire.

Firefighters were called at about 1 a.m. to the 14th floor of the building at 1633 W. Madison St. The building is the Patrick Sullivan Apartments, a Chicago Housing Authority senior-living building, according to an address directory. While the first was small and contained only to the bedroom, the smoke was so thick that firefighters evacuated every apartment on the 14th floor.

There are a few lessons to be remembered from this incident. First: Smoking in or near a bed is a terrible idea. If even a small ash lands on a mattress, it can ignite the entire bed in seconds, giving you no time to avoid being burned or having your clothes catch fire. What's more, mattresses generate a lot of smoke quickly, so someone can be overwhelmed in seconds by smoke that's inside a bedroom.

Second: Elderly folks should be checked upon regularly to make sure that they are practicing safe cooking, safe smoking, and taking other precautions whenever it comes to a heat source or an open flame inside their homes. As people get older, their ability to see is diminished, and their memory tends to slip as well . As a result, food sometimes gets burned, boiling water is forgotten about, lit candles are forgotten about, etc.. In other words, the chance for fire or severe burns goes up as people get older, so a watchful eye from a family member, friend, or neighbor would help.

Third: Smoke detectors are absolutely necessary in any home, but when it comes to older folks, that family member, friend or neighbor also needs to make sure that the batteries are still working in each detector.