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Elderly mum died after fall into scalding hot bath

An elderly woman unable to get out of a very hot bath died from severe burns.

Evelyn Attwell (78) was trapped in the scalding bath at her home in Dublin as her daughter desperately tried to break down the locked bathroom door.

"I'm stuck. The water's too hot," she called to her daughter Vivienne Thompson, who tried to rescue her.

Mrs Attwell, who had seven daughters, died a week later at the National Burns Unit at St James's Hospital in Dublin.

A post-mortem found she died of multi-organ failure due to "thermal burns as a result of partial immersion in hot bath water" at her home in Brookwood Rise, Artane.

Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell delivered a verdict of accidental death. Extending his sympathy to her family following the "very tragic occurrence", Dr Farrell said it appeared she must have slipped into the bath.

In a statement to the coroner's court, Ms Thompson said her mother appeared to be suffering from early-onset dementia and was scheduled to undergo a medical scan for the condition the day after the accident happened.

Ms Thompson visited her mother on the afternoon of October 25 last year and brought her dinner. Mrs Attwell was preparing for the hospital visit and went upstairs for a bath. After 10 or 15 minutes, Ms Thompson heard her mother calling her. She went upstairs and heard her mother calling through the locked door.

Ms Thompson said she tried to force the door open but it was a new door and she couldn't get it open. She sent her daughter for help and called the fire brigade.

Her mother was "still talking" to her for a few minutes before falling unconscious. When the fire brigade arrived and broke in the door, she was found lying widthways in the bath with her legs out. The paramedics revived her and she became "fully alert". She spoke with her daughter on the ambulance trip to Beaumont Hospital.

Mrs Attwell was transferred two hours later to St James's Hospital burns unit, where she died on November 2.

Family members told the coroner in court that Mrs Attwell used to complain of feeling "a little bit dizzy" from time to time. The family were concerned that she had been declining cognitively over the previous eight months.

The family did not know how the bath water became too hot. The coroner said she must not have put any cold water into the bath and she may have slipped into the bath while preparing it.