Scalded Toddler Dies from Stomach Piercing at Hospital August 16, 2011.
This case was as shocking as it was distressing for all those involved. A two-year-old toddler died of severe burns from her bath water, only to have her stomach pierced at the hospital.
"There are some cases that just sear your heart and you have a hard time reading about them. This case is one of those that really leave an impression behind, and a sense of sadness for the family. The father in this case filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the maker of a water heater and a doctor that treated his 2-year-old daughter," said Christopher Mellino. Mellino is a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer and wrongful death lawyer of the Mellino Law Firm LLC, in Ohio.
The little girl was severed scalded in overheated water in the tub at her home. The investigators measured the heat of the water to be 138 degrees, and also found that the water heater’s thermostat was not functioning properly. The lawsuit stated the thermostat was defective, as the water should have been heated to between 90 and 100 degrees, particularly when bathing babies. The wrongful death lawsuit named the maker of the water heater as one of the defendants, and stated they failed to use reasonable care in making the heater.
When the little girl was burned, she was taken to the nearest medical center, when a doctor intubated her with a tube that was made for an adult. The tube pierced the toddler’s stomach. She died of her injuries. Thus, the doctor was also named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit contains 16 counts and seeks $800,000 in damages. No one is talking to the media or commenting on the lawsuit.
"Medical malpractice? It would certainly seem so if indeed the doctor did intubate the 2-year-old girl with a tube designed for an adult. It would be awfully hard to find a really good reason why that was done, as it is quite obvious that a toddler’s anatomy is completely different than an adult. Wrongful death? Yes, as a result of two things, the severe burns and the medical negligence," Mellino said.
Will the case be successful? "That is a good question and much of the success of the case will rest on proving the maker of the water heater manufactured a defective unit or a unit with a defective thermostat. The secondary, but no less important issue, is how the child was treated when she got to hospital. I suspect there won’t be too much difficulty in finding an expert medical witness to testify you don’t intubate a small child with an adult tube," Mellino said.
Cases like this make one stop to think about states that have medical malpractice caps in place. "Are those caps fair given cases like this one, where medical negligence caused the death of a child? It’s something to think about if you are ever in a situation where you have been severely injured, as a result of medical malpractice. Frankly, when a medical malpractice/wrongful death case goes to court, it is going there because it needs to be heard. It is not frivolous and someone’s life usually hangs in the balance," Mellino said.