A 60 year-old patient was receiving home health care at her apartment. An aide with the home health company placed the patient in the bathtub without first checking the temperature of the bath water, which was scalding hot. The aide then left the patient in the bath while she watched TV. When the aide returned, the patient’s skin was bright red and burned on both feet. The aide put socks over her feet and, when she returned the next day, the patient’s skin peeled from her feet when her socks were removed. The patient was noted to have a 7 inch x 4.5 inch x 2 inch fluid-filled blister on her left foot, blisters on her left toes, skin sloughing off the left heel, an open burn wound to the left inside back foot area, and multiple blisters on the right foot. The patient’s family was notified and 911 was called.
The patient was transported to the hospital. Her treating plastic surgeon observed that she had sustained second and third degree burns on the left foot, ankle, and toes and additional burns to her right foot, and right toes. The plastic surgeon told the patient’s family that “this was a serious injury especially in conjunction with her dialysis and renal failure,” which “poses significant wound healing problems.” He transferred the patient to the University of Virginia’s burn center, where her plastic surgeon there was required to graft cadaver skin over much of the burned skin.
Specifically, the patient required debridement of 100 square centimeters of burned skin and a graft of cadaver skin of the same area to her left foot and toes.
The patient’s family contacted us to pursue claims against the home health company for failing to bathe the patient safely, which resulted in severe burn injuries. We were able to obtain a very large settlement for the patient that is confidential at the request of the home health company and its insurer. The settlement compensates the patient for her past injuries and provides for her future medical needs.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.