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Family Sues Over Third Degree Burns On Infant's Hand

Several months after hospital nurses inflicted severe third-degree burns on a 2-month-old baby girl's hand, the girl's parents are suing the hospital. According to the lawsuit, nurses mistakenly wrapped the baby's hand around a piece of equipment while they attempted to start an IV. The equipment was hot enough to cause third-degree burns on the inside of her hand.

While it can be difficult to investigate what went wrong in some nursing error cases, this lawsuit appears to be relatively clear.

The girl's parents brought her to their local hospital because they were concerned about neonatal stomach problems. Nurses quickly determined that the girl was dehydrated and needed fluids through an IV. When they tried to start the IV however, they had a hard time locating a workable vein.

After botching several tries, the nurses resorted to a light device to try to find a vein. According to the lawsuit, the nurses put the light in the baby's hand wrapped her fingers around it. The problem was that the light was much too hot - apparently nurses are never supposed to allow these lights touch a patient's skin. These nurses allegedly left the light in the girl's hand for eight minutes while she cried.

As a result of her burned hand, the infant has since received a skin graft and will require more surgeries going forward to repair the damage from this mistake.

Nurses have many of the same responsibilities that doctors have when they provide care to patients. It is unacceptable for a nurse's mistake to result in serious injuries and potentially permanent consequences for patients - the law allows patients to hold nurses and hospitals accountable for failing to live up to their professional obligations.

Sources: ABC News 10, "Parents of burned baby file lawsuit," Nov. 5, 2012; ABC 30, "Baby suffers serious burns at Mercy Medical Center Merced," Sara Sandrik, May 23, 2012

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