Man claims CAMC nurses committed sexual misconduct against dying wife

Man claims CAMC nurses committed sexual misconduct against dying wife

Charleston Gazette Mail

By Lacie Pierson

A Roane County widower says two male nurses at Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Hospital may have committed sexual misconduct against his wife while she was being treated for injuries she suffered in a car wreck last year.

When a female nurse reported the misconduct, the widower said the reporting nurse subsequently was fired while the nurses who allegedly committed the misconduct remained employed at the hospital, according to a lawsuit filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court on March 9.

The plaintiff and his wife are identified by their initials in the complaint, with R.L. being the plaintiff and W.L. as the patient at CAMC.

Even though R.L. believes the nurses’ conduct may fall outside of the scope of medical negligence, he filed the lawsuit out of “an abundance of caution” to stay in compliance with state law, according to the complaint filed in circuit court.

Dale Witte, spokesman for CAMC, said nursing staff did not engage in any sexual misconduct with W.L.

“Rather, nursing staff were engaged in a neurological test which appears to have been misinterpreted or taken out of context,” Witte said in an email to the Gazette-Mail on March 14.

R.L.’s attorneys, Matthew Berthold and Robert Berthold Jr., note that they have met with CAMC representatives several times to exchange information prior to filing the lawsuit.

The widower said his wife was at CAMC on Oct. 8, 2017, as a priority one trauma patient after a car crash.

W.L. suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and other significant life-threatening injuries, according to the complaint. She later died from those injuries.

While she was in the surgical trauma intensive care unit at the hospital, a female nurse at the hospital said she witnessed two male nurses discussing W.L.’s involuntary muscle flexes and other movements that occurred while she was unconscious.

The female nurse said one of the male nurses said, “Want to see something cool?”

That male nurse “rushed over and grabbed [W.L.’s] breast and twisted it to the point that her whole body flexed up off of the bed,” according to the complaint.

The female nurse said blood came out of W.L.’s mouth, and the men made comments about that fact while laughing following “that horrific event,” according to the complaint.

The female nurse said she reported what she saw to a nurse in the emergency room that night, and she was told to report the matter to a supervisor, which she did the next day when the supervisor was at work.

The nurse said she didn’t want to remain anonymous in reporting the incident “as she was so personally offended and appalled” by the other nurses’ actions.

After she made a report, the nurse was suspended and later fired, but the nurses accused of committing the misconduct were not fired and remained employed at the hospital at the time the lawsuit was filed.

R.L. claims the male nurses’ conduct was reckless and negligent, and he said they did not obtain consent to perform the acts in question on his wife. He also claims the hospital’s retention of those nurses was negligent and reckless, and he suffered emotional distress as a result of their actions.

He is seeking unspecified punitive damages with interest, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

The case has been assigned to Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.