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Patient sues Iowa hospital over alleged burns caused by scalding coffee

By: - April 20, 2022 10:54 am

A Dallas County man is suing a central Iowa hospital over serious burns he allegedly sustained from scalding coffee that was spilled into his lap. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A Dallas County man is suing a central Iowa hospital over serious burns he allegedly sustained from scalding coffee that was spilled into his lap.

Jay Becker of Adel is suing Central Iowa Health System and three of its affiliates — Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Unity Point Health of Des Moines and the DMM Cardiac Cath Lab — in Polk County District Court.

According to the court petition filed by his attorney, Becker went to the DMM Cardiac Cath Lab on April 22, 2020, for a cardiac catheterization to evaluate potential arterial blockages.

After the catheterization procedure, Becker was brought to a recovery bay within the lab and, while seated there, he was allegedly given an “extremely hot” cup of coffee.

The coffee, which Becker does not recall requesting, was either “dropped by or spilled on” Becker, the lawsuit alleges. The spill allegedly resulted in severe burns to Becker’s thighs and genitals.

His lawsuit alleges the staff handed him “scalding hot coffee and knew, or should have known,” that he was not conscious enough to hold hot coffee.

According to the lawsuit, the injury resulted in increased medical expenses; pain and suffering; and permanent, partial disability. Becker is seeking unspecified damages from the defendants.

The lawsuit does not allege any form of medical malpractice and is instead based on a claim of negligence, which is relatively unusual in litigation brought by patients against medical providers.

Central Iowa Health System and its affiliates have yet to file a response to the lawsuit and declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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