REPORT: Care Facility Fires 4 Nurses After Elderly Man Left In Scalding Water Dies

A non-verbal elderly man died after being left unattended in a whirlpool filled with scalding hot water at a West Virginia long-term care facility, according to KDKA News.

An investigation revealed that a thermostat on a water tank had been malfunctioning, causing the water to reach high temperatures, KDKA reported. The Hopemont Hospital staff allegedly knew about the problem a month prior to the man’s death and did nothing about the issue, the outlet noted.

The patient, who reportedly required around-the-clock care, was left in the whirlpool for 47 minutes in 134-degree water, according to KDKA. He reportedly died from the burns he suffered while unattended.

“Imagine if you’re in a whirlpool of scalding water for 47 minutes but you can’t verbalize pain. And even if you did there was no one there to intervene,” Mike Folio, the legal director of Disability Rights of West Virginia, told the outlet. “It looks like his skin has melted.”

The advocacy group reportedly investigated the man’s death at the facility and found the staff had known about the issues with the water temperature. (RELATED: Former Nurse Facing Charges In 17 Nursing Home Deaths, Pennsylvania Officials Say).

“Roughly 30 days prior to this episode, one of the RNs at Hopemont sent an internal email advising staff about concerns of hot water and specifically said that there is a fear that patients may get burned,” Folio told the outlet.

Four nurses from the hospital in Preston County have since been fired in connection to the man’s death. One of the nurses is employed by the state while the others are contracted, the outlet noted.

An elderly, nonverbal man died from burn injuries after being left too long in a whirlpool at a state-run long-term care facility. A spokesperson for the state health department said they’ve fired four nurses who were involved, reports @AmeliaKnisely.

— West Virginia Watch (@WV_Watch) March 18, 2024

“It’s a system’s failure, top to bottom. Because if you have knowledge of this hazard 30 days before it actually killed somebody, you would take action,” Folio told the outlet.

“Hopemont Hospital administration and DHF have taken steps to prevent future occurrences including providing staff training on monitoring water temperatures prior to and during resident bathing and making repairs and upgrades to the facility’s hot water system,” a West Virginia Department of Health Facilities spokesperson told KDKA.

It remains unclear whether criminal charges will be filed against the nurses, the outlet noted.