Home Nursing Burns Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Zuras v. Love To Care

Nursing BathThis wrongful death claim was filed in Charles County after a man sustained burns on over ten percent of his body. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on March 12, 2018, and it is the 124th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

This is a really sad case. A thirty-seven-year-old man with cerebral palsy was receiving health care assistance from Love To Care at his home. A home care aide drew a bath for the man but failed to ensure that the bath water was at a safe and comfortable temperature. She tested the water wearing gloves which is obviously not going to give you a good gauge of the temperature. The scalding hot bath water caused severe burns on the lower half of the man's body.

Instead of calling an ambulance, the aide applied ointment to the burns which made matters worse, clothed the man, and covered up his wounds. The inference in the lawsuit is that the home care aide wanted to cover up what had happened. (If true, this would infuriate a jury.) Eventually, the man's parents discovered his injuries and took him to Washington Hospital Center where he underwent emergency skin graft surgery. One week later, the man aspirated and died from his injuries.

Additional Comments
  • The man was a non-verbal patient, and as such, his home care aide should have been particularly attuned to his non-verbal cues. A non-verbal patient can't scream in pain or audibly complain about the temperature of his bath, but he can communicate his discomfort in other ways. No doubt, the man attempted to recoil from the dangerously hot water, had a panicked facial expression, or otherwise attempted to signal his pain. The home care service should have been aware of the man's limited communicative ability before accepting him as a client and should have trained their staff accordingly.

  • Love To Care's Director of Nursing was operating under an expired license at the time of the incident. Love To Care did not employ a single Registered Nurse, did not evaluate the skill level of its staff members, did not provide a comprehensive orientation or in-service training, and did not perform criminal background screenings of its underqualified employees. It is fraudulent to refer to advertise a company as a home care provider if it does not meet these minimum qualifications, particularly if the company bills Medicare and/or Medicaid for its services. But this is all background music. They key to the case is the negligent act of putting that man in hot water.

  • This is just an awful case. It is hard not to feel for the man's parents who must have worked so hard to care for their son only to lose him to something like this.

  • This man lived for a week with these awful burn injuries. Maryland's cap on pain and suffering damage in malpractice cases is just ridiculously low.

Jurisdiction
  • Charles County
Defendants
  • Love To Care, LLC
  • A home health care aide
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Washington Hospital Center
Negligence
  • Failing to perform a comprehensive assessment before admitting the man to personal care services.

  • Failing to hire and train appropriately qualified care providers.

  • Failing to develop and maintain a plan of care.

  • Failing to perform dressing changes within the proper scope of practice.

  • Failing to advocate for non-verbal patients by not removing him from the bath at first sign of discomfort.

  • Failing to recognize the home care aide's limits of knowledge and expertise.

  • Failing to maintain the required certificate and license for a home health care facility in the State of Maryland.

Specific Counts Pled
  • Negligence - Survival Claim: Prior to his death, the man suffered a great deal of physical pain and incurred medical expenses.

  • Wrongful Death: Due to the defendants' negligence, the man suffered death and his family will continue to suffer mental and emotional pain as a result of his death.

Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Danielle Middleton, RN
  • Ronald P. Silverman, MD, plastic surgery
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