Safety rules bolstered after disabled man dies from scalding

Alberta is bringing in new safety standards after a mute, severely disabled man in government care died from scalding injuries he suffered while being bathed.

CALGARY — Alberta is bringing in new safety standards after a mute, severely disabled man in government care died from scalding injuries he suffered while being bathed.

The victim, identified only as David, was living at a Calgary group home last October when he was burned below his waist and on his left hand and forearm. A staff member had left him alone to answer the door.

David, 35, wasn’t sent to hospital for more than two hours after he was injured. He died five weeks later despite four separate surgeries.

“This tragedy has weighed heavily on my mind and I don’t want something like this ever, ever to happen again,” George VanderBurg, Alberta’s minister of seniors, said Monday.

“So we’ve been working hard to put some new protective measures into place to help prevent another incident like this one.”

A final report says David had severe epilepsy characterized by several types of seizures. Another staff member noticed his injuries when his skin began peeling off and that he had blisters on his hand.

VanderBurg said the government will spend $1.5 million to improve safety at about 1,000 Alberta group homes that have less than four occupants.

The changes will include installing temperature regulators, including anti-scald valves and improved bathing safety procedures.

Government investigators say what happened amounts to a case of abuse. Calgary police have been investigating since David died in November.

The family said they can only hope that David’s death will result in improvements to how people with disabilities in care are treated.

The upgrades to the group homes should be completed within a few months.