MERCED -- The family of a 3-month-old girl who was taken to Mercy Medical Center Merced with stomach flu and came out with a third-degree burn on her left hand has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.
The parties, including the hospital's parent company -- Dignity Health -- couldn't reach a settlement, so the family decided to move ahead with the lawsuit, said Moseley Collins, the family's Sacramento-based attorney.
However, he said, there's a mediation session set up for later this month to see if an agreement can be reached.
Collins submitted a settlement offer to Dignity Health in August, but it was not willing to settle, citing the need for more time and more medical records, he said.
The attorney said he and Lylah Rose Payne Quezada's parents want the public to know about this case to prevent the same experience from happening to other children.
"We want to move forward, and we want to warn parents to be careful," Collins said. "One goal is for hospitals to be safer for our children."
The complaint, which initiates litigation, was filed Friday at San Francisco County Superior Court. It claims medical malpractice, battery and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco because the headquarters for Dignity Health are there, Collins said. Also, a press conference was held Monday outside Shriner's Hospital in Sacramento, where Lylah receives treatment.
Bob McLaughlin, spokesman for Mercy Medical Center, said patient safety and quality care are always high priorities at Mercy.
"We take this incident very seriously and have conducted a thorough review of the events," he said in a statement. "Consistent with patient privacy laws and hospital policy, we respect the privacy of our patients and will not discuss the specifics of their care, nor comment on pending litigation.
"Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the patient, her family, hospital staff and physicians," McLaughlin continued.
It is within parents' rights to watch what's being done to their children and to stop medical staff if they don't feel comfortable, Collins said.
The amount the family is requesting as part of the lawsuit is confidential at this point, Collins said. However, the family is asking the hospital to take financial responsibility for what was done as well as cover future medical expenses.
For example, he said, skin was taken off Lylah's groin to be placed on her left palm. Therefore, she will develop pubic hair on her palm and that skin won't grow at the same rate as the rest of her normal palm skin, which could require future surgeries.
Lylah might experience chronic pain on her left hand and some loss of movement, Collins said.
"She already tries not to use her left hand," he said. "She avoids her left hand, which is not a good sign."
According to the lawsuit, on March 27, Lylah was taken to the emergency room at Mercy with a temperature of 97.9. Several attempts were made by nurses to start an IV, but they failed.
At that point, without the consent of the parents, a nurse used an unapproved light source to try to locate a vein, according to the lawsuit. The light source caused the burn.
Lylah was transferred to Children's Hospital Central California in Madera, according to a previous interview with her mother, Tiffany Payne.
Later, the infant was sent to Shriner's Hospital for Children to be treated. The Sacramento hospital is an 80-bed, orthopedic, burn and spinal cord injury rehabilitation hospital, according to its Web site.
In a letter sent to the family's lawyer soon after, Dignity Health says it is sorry and explains how Lylah was burned.
"In order to avoid the need for Lylah Rose to undergo an intraosseous line, the nurses used an unapproved light source to locate the vein," the letter says.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or email@example.com.