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Deadly Scalding in Long Term Care Centre

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It’s not easy to imagine Dianne Poff’s life. But the Saskatchewan woman’s death was especially unimaginable. In 1955, when she was nine months old, Ms. Poff contracted meningitis. She was never able to speak or move her limbs well enough to get around on her own. But she survived, with the help of a loving family, and professional caregivers who attended to her most basic needs.

In 2005, Ms. Poff was living in a Swift Current care home. There were instructions that she was to be showered and never put in a bath. But one day, two employees slowly lowered Ms. Poff into a tub of water. No one had checked the temperature of the water.

It was scalding. And Ms. Poff could not scream. By the time the employees got her out, she had suffered first, second and third-degree burns to her feet, legs, buttocks and back.

Dianne Poff’s family say that, at first, no one at the Cypress Health District would assume responsibility. The family wants to know why no one was held accountable when their 51-year-old daughter Diane died after she was put into a bathtub of scalding water on Aug. 12, 2005. Because she had cerebral palsy and was mentally challenged, Diane could not alert staff at the Palliser Regional Care Centre in Swift Current of her pain.

She suffered deep, second-degree burns on her foot and first-degree burns on her buttocks. The Cypress Health Region was found negligent in providing care to Diane, a Regina Court of Queens’ Bench ruled in May. Coroner Robert Paterson ruled the death was accidental for clients.

Adapted from: The Regina Leader-Post May 31, 2007

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