Strine v. Commonwealth Med. Care Availability & Reduction of Error Fund, 586 Pa. 395 (Pa. 2006)

Suit was filed after a CNA failed to check the water temperature before bathing resident; resident was burned and died 3 days later. Suit was settled for $1.5 million. One of Defendant’s insurers paid $200,000; Defendant paid the balance of $1.3 million because its other insurer was in liquidation. Defendant then sought indemnification from the Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss Fund. The fund refused to indemnify the facility because, it alleged, giving a bath did not constitute a medical service. After summary judgment was entered for the facility, the fund appealed arguing that giving a bath does not constitute professional health services. The court affirmed the decision below finding it was “uncontested that Mrs. Barnes was under the care of a nursing home licensed to provide health care or professional medical services at the time of the incident. In that setting she required specialized care for her skin condition as initially ordered by a doctor and as provided by a trained nurse’s aide pursuant to a regimen that exceeded routine custodial care. Although the bath that Mrs. Barnes received departed from the doctor’s orders in that it lacked a whirlpool component, the salient point for present purposes is that, while providing the bath, Chester Care’s employees were delivering medical services in light of the overall circumstances concerning Mrs. Barnes’ physical and mental infirmities.”

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