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Legal issues related to heat

02 September 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 9


Health problems related to climate change are with us to stay, some say for a good while. The effect of excessive heat on the human frame are manifold and they are encountered first in the home. During hot weather, community nurses are likely to be faced with an array of health issues not encountered in more temperate conditions. Those very health issues can also impact on legal issues.

John Finch, a freelance journalist specialising in clinical law and ethics, examines how.

The ever-increasing awareness of climate change and its harmful effects usually focusses on geophysical harm. TV programmes are devoted to the issue and are rarely without images of a melting iceberg or a parched river bed. However, climate change has adversely affected people's health across the globe, with extreme temperature events seeming to increase in frequency, duration and magnitude (WHO, 2023).

In the UK, there is a total unpredictability in climate—a regular occurence every year. While, all populations are affected by extreme heat, some are more vulnerable than others—such as the elderly, infants and children, pregnant women, outdoor and manual workers and the poor (WHO, 2018). In such populations, exposure to extreme heat can amplify already-existing conditions and result in premature death/disability (WHO, 2018). Older people, in particular, are at risk of developing hyperthermia (National Institute of Health, 2018).

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