Heat Stroke - Medical Malpractice LawyersLEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
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Heat Stroke - Medical Malpractice
Heat stroke is a medical emergency from which a person can die. It happens when the brain's cooling system fails to work so that the body temperature begins to rise when exposed o high heat circumstances. Your body temperature can be as high as 105 degrees or more. There can be brain damage or damage to other bodily organs.
Heat stroke can progress from heat exhaustion or can develop on its own. It usually develops quite rapidly and can be made more frequent if you have certain medical conditions or take certain medications. Anything that impairs the body's ability to sweat can increase the chances of developing heat stroke.
Heat stroke classically develops when a person's body has an impaired ability to cool itself. It can also occur when a healthy individual undergoes a strenuous activity while being in a hot environment. It is a condition more common in the elderly and in infants and in those taking antihistamines, some depression medications and high blood pressure.
Symptoms of heat stroke include having an abnormal mental status to include dizziness, hallucinations, confusion or unconsciousness and coma. The skin is dry and flushed. The skin is hot to the touch. Sometimes the skin is moist from previous sweating that has since stopped. The blood pressure goes from being slightly high to low as the disease progresses. The patient may be hyperventilating. The core temperature (obtained via a rectal temperature) is 105 degrees or greater.
You should seek immediate medical treatment if you suspect someone or yourself is suffering from heat stroke. This is especially true if the person is suffering from a change in mental status. If the person is unable to keep fluids down or has symptoms of chest pain, abdominal pain or other symptoms suggestive of having a more serious condition along with heat stroke, seek immediate medical advice. Call 911 for ambulance transfer to a competent hospital.
The doctor can diagnose heat stroke using a complete history and physical examination. The doctor will assess the past medical history of the individual and will ask about over the counter and prescription medications that might be getting in the way of the cooling process. The patient may have symptoms the doctor wants to know about. The doctor checks the core temperature of the patient and does blood tests which can test for the presence of end organ damage, such as liver damage, muscle damage or kidney damage. There are no x-rays which need to be done to show the presence of heat stroke unless the patient has sustained a fall because of their heat stroke. You should never try to treat heat stroke at home because it is a serious medical emergency that needs skilled medical treatment. Always call 911 if you suspect you or someone else is suffering from heat stroke.
While waiting for the ambulance, move the individual to a cooler environment or put them in a cool water bath unless the patient is unconscious. Do not leave the patient alone at any time. You can also moisten the skin using slightly warm or cool water and allow a fan to blow cool are across the person's skin. Give the patient cool beverages only if they tolerate drinking liquids without vomiting and are in a conscious state.
The doctor will use external methods to cool the body similar to those used at home. They can also use cold saline solution to lavage the stomach with cool water. Cool water can be instilled in the bladder or rectum to cool the body from within. Cool beverages can be given when the patient has regained consciousness and can drink safely.
The follow up of a visit to the doctor means following the post-hospital instructions carefully. You should stay out of the sun as much as possible and avoid heating up the body again in the near future. Continue to drink cool beverages so you are not dehydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here