‘Severe Scalding of Patients’ has been added to the new list of NHS ‘Never Events’ published by the Department of Health. ‘Never Events’ are very serious patient safety incidents that should not occur if relevant preventative measures have been put in place.
The addition of scalding to the ‘Never Events list 2011/12’ resulted from
campaigning by the Thermostatic Mixing Valve Association (TMVA). It endorses the thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) as a vital and reliable safety device for use in healthcare properties to prevent scalding.
Scalding is a wholly preventable ‘accident’ because TMVs will prevent scalding hot water in basins, showers and baths, says Honeywell, the leading manufacturer of heating and water controls.
In healthcare, thermostatic mixing valves certified to Buildcert TMV3 must be fitted. BuildCert TMV3 approval is granted if a TMV complies with the requirements of NHS specification D08.
Valves to the domestic TMV2 standard are acceptable for most other premises. But if the facilities are used by vulnerable people, such as the elderly, young children or the mentally or physically disabled, then TMV3 valves should be installed to provide the maximum safety level.
Children, the infirm and the elderly are at particular risk of life-threatening scald burns: a few seconds’ lapse can damage a child for life. The elderly are at increased risk because their skin tends to be less sensitive so they might pull away from hot water quickly enough to avoid scalding.
People with impaired mobility may be unable to escape from hot water, so are also at greater risk.