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She's on fire, saying docs' lice Rx burned

A woman who went to Woodhull Hospital's emergency room to be treated for body lice was twice prescribed a treatment that seared her face and chest, she charged in a claim filed late last week.

Ernestine Holloway, 35, of Bushwick said that even though she informed Woodhull doctors she had severe skin allergies, they still told her to use a harsh shampoo to rid her body of lice when she went to the emergency room Nov. 2.

"My skin feels like it's really burning," Holloway said. "I don't cry, because tears have salt in it and it burns my face."

Holloway and her lawyers contend in a medical malpractice claim against the city's Health and Hospitals Corp., filed Friday, that the repeated negligence of Woodhull's staff left parts of her face and body raw and blistered.

Holloway showed the Daily News an emergency room bill indicating a doctor told her to use a shampoo containing lindane for six hours. However, a pharmacy pamphlet issued when the prescription was filled said the shampoo should be used only for three to five minutes. The pamphlet also warns users of symptoms such as "skin rash, jerking of the face or trunk, swelling or burning sensations."

Lindane is a highly toxic pesticide that is banned in California and several European countries.

"She told them she had allergies to various things," said Charles Liebman, Holloway's lawyer, "and what they prescribed is a shampoo which a layman could see would cause problems."

Feeling a tingling sensation on her body, Holloway said she returned to the Woodhull emergency room Nov. 3 - and was prescribed the lindane-containing shampoo a second time.

Holloway said that two days after applying the shampoo to her entire body again, her eyes started to burn as she was out shopping at a clothing store.

"I was telling the girl at the cash register, 'My face is on fire,'" Holloway said. A Fire Department ambulance brought her yet again to Woodhull Hospital. Even then, however, Holloway said, doctors offered her little help.

Holloway finally received treatment for her allergic reaction to lindane - from a Woodhull dermatologist - last Friday, Liebman said.

Citing patient confidentiality laws, a Woodhull spokeswoman declined comment.

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.


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