Man badly burnt after getting stuck against radiator

An elderly man sustained first-degree burns after he slipped and became stuck between his bed and a radiator.

Desmond Butler, aged 86, from Six Cross Lane, Rush, Co Dublin, was found in the room where he slept, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

He was a former president of Erin’s Isle GAA Club. He was healthy, loved sport and the sea, and was a character, according to his children.

“He was a lovely man. He loved his sport. The house in Rush was a holiday home originally. He was getting healthy since he’d moved out there,” Jack Butler said on behalf of the family.

Mr Butler’s neighbour, Robert Byrne, awoke to a knock on his door at 8.30am on February 19, 2016. He went next door to the Butlers’ home.

“Dessie was wedged between his bed and the radiator,” Mr Byrne said. Mr Butler said he was cold, tired and hungry, but could not remember how he had become stuck, the court heard.

An ambulance was called to help free the man and family arrived. Susan McGuinness said her father had red marks on his right arm and right side.

“The ambulance crew said it was most likely burns from the radiator,” she said.

“He said he’d been up late watching the elections. Some time between 2am and 8am something happened but I don’t know what.”

Her father was transferred to Beaumont Hospital where doctors found he had full-thickness first-degree burns over 18% of his body. He was transferred to the burns unit at St James’s Hospital where staff noted he was not fully alert. He became critically unwell. He developed kidney problems and was treated with antibiotics and painkillers but suffered a cardiac arrest the next day.

He was resuscitated by medical staff but died in hospital on February 21, 2016.

The cause of death was pneumonia due to burns occurring as a consequence of a fall, said an autopsy report. There was no evidence of a heart attack or stroke that may have caused the fall.

Coroner Myra Cullinane said full-thickness burns are not as painful as more superficial burns because the nerves are damaged.

However, first-degree burns pose grave dangers for the kidneys and general circulation, the coroner said.

“I think he must have slipped in some way, it may have been something very simple,” she said, returning a verdict of accidental death.

The coroner’s court also heard a man died nine days after surgery after he developed complications doctors could not explain.

Michael Byrne, aged 84, from Kill, Tullow, Co Carlow, became critically ill following surgery at the Beacon Hospital and died on October 18, 2015. He had undergone elective surgery for bowel cancer on October 9.

Following surgery, Mr Byrne’s condition deteriorated within hours.

Returning a narrative verdict that set out the circumstances of the man’s death, Dr Cullinane said it was unfortunate the hearing had not been able to fully clarify the family’s question surrounding the cause of death.


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