Family files wrongful death lawsuit against nursing home over fatal medication overdose

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by Charles Miller

Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported the unfortunate news of a woman dying in a nursing home following an alleged medication overdose. According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the deceased woman, two doctors prescribed an “inappropriate dosage and combination of medications” that caused her death. The suit alleges the nursing center, Rainbow Beach Nursing Center, was negligent when it administered incorrect and excessive doses of medication to the woman and didn’t properly monitor and report her condition, the lawsuit states.

This is a story we see all too often: health care professionals failing to communicate with each other and failing to properly take into account the complex and dangerous consequences of mixing powerful drugs.

For example, we recently filed a fentanyl lawsuit on behalf of parents of a 24-year-old woman who was treated for chest pains at a hospital and died days later of mixed drug toxicity. She had been admitted to the hospital with chest pains, discharged two days later and sent to a care center. Between her discharge and death, she was given at least 10 different medications, including the potent painkiller fentanyl in a transdermal patch.

Drugs taken together can interact in ways that increase their overall effect. Many times the doses of particular drugs should be lowered if the drug is to be taken in combination with certain other drugs. It takes time and care for a health care professional to properly prescribe the safe and effective doses and combinations. Sadly, prescribing physicians and other medical professionals don’t always commit the time and care necessary.

We have previously reported on the deadly risk of combining fentanyl patches with other CNS depressant drugs, as well as, for example, new warnings about health risks from combining blood pressure drugs, and our nation’s growing problem with prescription drug deaths.

A patient depends on his physician to stay informed about the dangers of combining medications. When a medical error that should have been avoided occurs and causes a patient injury, it is medical malpractice. Like all other professionals, doctors and nurses should be held accountable when their negligence causes harm. Unfortunately, due to overzealous “tort reform,” successful lobbying by insurance companies and a handful of well-publicized frivolous lawsuits, medical malpractice cases have become increasingly difficult to win.

Victim of Medical Malpractice? You Have Legal Rights.

The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and expertise to assist injured patients with their medical malpractice claims. Our attorneys have successfully represented numerous victims of medical malpractice. Among our attorneys’ recent verdicts, settlements and results are the following:

Jim Orr negotiated a $6.75 million settlement for the family of an 8 year-old child who suffered permanent brain damage due to medical errors occurring at a VA hospital.

Michael Heygood achieved a $2.2 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the premature discharge of a newborn infant from the hospital with low glucose levels.

Eric Pearson argued the appeal in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. v. Hogue, 271 S.W.3d 238 (Tex. 2009), in which the Texas Supreme Court upheld a gross negligence finding against the defendant hospital in a medical malpractice case and affirmed the jury’s $9 million verdict on behalf of his clients.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the knowledge, experience and financial resources necessary to prosecute even the most complex medical negligence case. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, please contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.