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Pediatric Burns Suffered Inside Hospital; Incident Will Likely Result in Lawsuit Against Hospital

A California family is coming to Shriner’s Hospital in Sacramento as often as three times a month for treatment of third degree burns they say their baby incurred inside another hospital.

On March 28, 2012, Lylah’s parents, Tiffany Payne and Stanley Quezada, took the baby to Mercy Merced’s emergency room suffering from diarrhea and dehydration. According to Payne, a nurse tried to start an intravenous line, but was unable to do so. They then called a phlebotomist from the pediatric unit to come down and do it. But Quezada says they pricked the baby’s skin a total of 14 times.

The family attorney, Moseley Collins, says in an attempt to try to find the vein, a nurse held a bright light to Lylah’s left palm. However, the nurse did not realize the light was so hot it was causing third degree burns. “It was held up to the baby’s hand for about eight minutes,” Payne said. “She was screaming at the top of her lungs.”

At first, Payne and Quezada thought the nurse used a flashlight. Now they think it is possible the light was one normally used inside a vaginal spectrum device. When used properly inside the spectrum, the light never makes contact with the skin, so it does not cause burns. Mercy Merced Hospital, owned by Dignity Health, did not clarify what the light was, but did say it was “unapproved” for how it might have been used with the baby.

In a May 11 letter to the family attorney, Barbara Van Koll, a Dignity Health area claims manager, wrote this: “The nurses used an unapproved light source to locate a vein.” She went on to add that “since that light source does not get hot on the sides, the nurses were not aware of its potential to get hot and were thus unaware of the burn.” Van Koll’s letter indicated the health care system would reimburse the family for “reasonable expenses.”

Mercy Merced representative Bob McLaughlin also wrote the following: “We take this incident very seriously and have conducted a thorough review of the events. We are working with the family to ensure Lylah’s needs are met.”

Lylah is still suffering pain, as Payne massages and stretches the skin on the baby’s hand wound several times each day. Because of the burn, Lylah has to wear a burn glove for up to two years, and she’ll have permanent scarring. “This little girl will have a damaged left hand for the rest of her life,” said family attorney Collins. “Everyday she’ll get up and look at that hand. This is a case where she should be compensated for what she’s going through.”

In late May, the hospital received notification a potential lawsuit. How long Mercy Merced has to settle the case before a lawsuit is initiated will be up to the family’s attorney.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.