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Nursing home sued after maggots were found in patient's ear

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 9:30 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — The family of a 90-year-old Alzheimer's patient claims poor care by a suburban nursing home allowed 57 maggots to grow in her ear, according to a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

The medical malpractice suit claims Catherine McCann suffered severe injuries, elder abuse and neglect because Lutheran Home, 800 W. Oakton St., Arlington Heights, failed to provide "a reasonable standard of professional care."

On Sept. 16, a nurse at the home was caring for McCann when a maggot was spotted moving in the alzheimer's patient's ear. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital, Phil Hemmer, the nursing home's administrator, said.

In the emergency room at Northwest Community Hospital, McCann's daughter watched as the larvae of diptera flies crawled out of her mother's left ear as the maggots were being removed, according to the suit filed Nov. 28.

The McCann family previously filed a complaint with the state Department of Public Health. An investigation in October found no violations to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, said Melaney Arnold, a department spokeswoman.

Henry Phillip Gruss, the attorney who filed the suit for the family, said the maggots were sent to a lab and determined to be about three days old.

"I'm curious how someone could wash her hair and not noticed 57 maggots," Gruss said. McCann was moved to a different care facility after the incident, Gruss said..

The week before the maggots were found, McCann was prescribed medicated ear drops for an existing ear condition, Gruss said. Hemmer said she was given the last dose the night before she was taken to the hospital, Hemmer said.

The Lutheran Home has 372 nursing home patients, including 80 in a specialized unit for Alzheimer's care.

Hemmer said Lutheran Home has done nothing wrong because the patient's files document the care she received.

"This is a freak occurrence that has nothing to do with the care she was provided or the environment she was living in," Hemmer said.

The suit seeks a jury trial and at least $50,000 in damages.

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