Family suing Florida hospital says maggots found in patient's mouth

A grandmother’s family is suing a Florida hospital, claiming maggots were found on the woman's body.

According to the lawsuit, Orange Park Medical Center ICU caregivers found maggots in Dorothy Mooneyham’s mouth and on her body.

The hospital calls Mooneyham’s family’s claims “outrageous and inaccurate,” despite multiple OPMC medical records documenting the maggots.

Those documents were provided to WJAX by Mooneyham’s attorney.

OPMC’s spokeswoman declined to comment on those medical records, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

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Mooneyham’s family said she was in the hospital for an operation related to her lung cancer, and she also had a heart attack while she was there.

Two weeks before Fred Mooneyham’s mother died, he said they were watching the Jacksonville Jaguars game in OPMC’s ICU when she started acting strangely.

“At one point, she started jutting her jaw out, like she was trying to say something,” said Fred Mooneyham.

He said the next day a nurse found maggots crawling in his mother’s mouth while she was cleaning her teeth.

“The hard part for me is knowing, in her own way, she was trying to tell me what was happening,” said Fred Mooneyham.

He said his mother’s caregivers found more maggots over the course of several days, including one on her thigh.

“It’s impossible that the maggots were on Mrs. Mooneyham before she came in. She was in the hospital for two weeks before the maggots were ever discovered. The gestational period is approximately 24 hours,” said the family’s attorney, Frank Ashton.

Dorothy Mooneyham’s death was unrelated to the maggots.

“This will be the last memory of our mother. It’s unacceptable,” said Dorothy Mooneyham’s daughter, Patti Mooneyham.

An OPMC spokeswoman turned down Action News Jax’s request for an interview but sent the following statement:

"We are aware of the outrageous and inaccurate allegations that have been made. While we understand the grief of losing a loved one, and we offer our condolences to this family, we are proud of the skilled and compassionate care our team provides every day to our patients, and we will vehemently defend this case in court."

OPMC’s website said it places in the top 4 percent of hospitals as a Joint Commission top performer for quality and safety in patient care.

The Joint Commission’s spokeswoman could not confirm if the agency investigated this specific case but did say it evaluated a similar concern and worked with the hospital to address it.

The Agency for Healthcare Administration said it is currently reviewing what happened.