Nearly everyone has watched a nurse struggle to place an IV line in a vein. This is can be trying for both the patient and nurse. When the patient is a baby, this process is even more difficult. Recently, a nurse in California struggled to find a vein in a two month old girl's hand. When she could not find the vein, the nurse reportedly decided to ad lib with a new technique by placing a light to baby's hand to better see vein. According to the recently filed medical malpractice lawsuit, the baby started screaming but the nurse continued to use light, causing a severe burn to baby's hand and required multiple skin graft surgeries.
An intravenous line or IV is a tube that a nurse or other health professional inserts into a vein via a needle. The primary purpose of an IV line is to administer liquid directly into a patient's blood stream. The ability of a nurse to obtain IV access is an essential skill. Success is predicated on a variety of factors, including the nurse's knowledge, skill and experience, as well as the patient's individual anatomy.
When two month old Lyla Rose got sick, her parents took her to the hospital. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, a nurse attempted to put an IV line but could not do so after much struggling. Rather than request help from another nurse, she decided a novel approach. She brought in a light and placed it on or near the baby's hand to try to better see her veins. Lyla began screaming at the top of her lungs in pain but the nurse continued to keep the light on her hand for several minutes, burning a hole in the Lyla's hand. Despite several subsequent skin graft surgeries, the lawsuit claims her hand has not fully healed.
In order to prevail in a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must prove the health professional deviated from the standard of care and, as a result, suffered some sort of harm. A deviation from the standard of care is based on what a reasonable health professional would have done under the same or similar circumstances. Proving deviation nearly always requires expert testimony.
In this case, the family must prove the nurse deviated from the standard of care of a nurse like her when she applied a light on the baby's hand and left it there even after the baby began screaming. In all likelihood, this will not be difficult. The family will also need to prove placing the light on the baby's hand caused a burn--which will not be difficult either. The real dispute in this case will be over the extent of the baby's injury and whether she will fully recover. Given the nature of severe burn injuries, this question may be unanswerable for some time.
Fox 40 Sacramento, Baby Injury Leads To Lawsuit At Merced Hospital, November 5, 2012.