Nursing Home Found Liable for Fatal Fentanyl Overdose

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by Jim Orr

An Illinois jury has found that a nursing home’s negligence was responsible for a 66-year old patient’s fentanyl overdose and death. Last month, a jury awarded $273,607 to the family of a 66-year-old woman who died while at Rosewood Care Center in Edwardsville.

The woman had been admitted to the nursing home for short-term skilled nursing care and control of her chronic pain. As part of her treatment, she was prescribed a Fentanyl patch. As per her physician’s orders, the patient was to receive one patch on her back for control of pain at a time. In an obvious error, one of the nurses at the home placed a second Fentanyl patch on the woman without realizing that there was already one in place. Shortly after the second patch was applied, the woman lost consciousness and was taken to a nearby hospital for what was believed to be a narcotic overdose. The lawsuit claimed the nursing home failed to consult with the woman’s physician, failed to properly administer medication and failed to maintain medication records and check against the doctor’s orders to assure proper administration of medication, among other allegations.

Even though placing two very powerful Duragesic narcotic patches on a patient is an obvious error, the nursing home still fought against the family and argued the woman’s other health problems and history of smoking were the cause of her death. The jury disagreed. The jury in Madison County Circuit Court awarded $195,000 for loss of a normal life, $50,000 for pain and suffering, $18,000 for medical expenses, and $10,000 for grief, sorrow and mental suffering of the survivors.

Prescribing errors with the fentanyl patch

The ignorance of doctors when it comes to this drug product is shocking. Common mistakes that our firm has seen doctors commit in prescribing fentanyl patches that cause deaths include:

  • Overestimating the initial dose of fentanyl patches: Our firm has settled numerous wrongful death lawsuits after a doctor overestimated the dose and the patient died on the first patch.
  • Prescribing them for acute or post operative pain: Our firm has represented the families of patients killed by patches improperly prescribed after surgery for reflux, after a broken arm and after a hysterectomy.
  • Prescribing fentanyl patches to opioid naïve patients: Our firm has recently settled numerous wrongful death cases where patients who had never taken any opioids or had only used mild amounts of opioids were prescribed fentanyl patches and died on the first patch.
  • Prescribing fentanyl patches at the same time as other CNS depressant medications: Our firm has also seen this warning violated by doctors frequently.
  • Prescribing fentanyl patches to patients with significant pulmonary problems: Our firm has settled numerous wrongful death lawsuits involving doctors that have ignored this warning and killed their patient.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting for patient safety

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are among the nation’s leaders in handling cases involving potent opioids, and our law firm has the experience to prosecute medical malpractice cases involving a wide array of serious opioid painkillers, including Vicodin and Hydrocodone, OxyContin and Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydromorphone, Fentanyl, and others.

With respect to fentanyl, Heygood, Orr & Pearson has successfully prosecuted more cases involving deaths due to fentanyl products than all the other firms in the country combined. We have spent years studying fentanyl, its uses and its misuses. We have deposed hundreds of doctors, scientists and experts on the subject of fentanyl products.

If you or a loved one has experienced the tragedy of losing a family member as a result of Fentanyl pain patch usage, you and your family deserve answers to your questions. If the loss was as a result of a prescribing error, you have the right to demand that the responsible healthcare provider be held accountable. Contact us for a free consultation so we can help you determine the best way to protect your legal rights and interests.

To receive a free legal consultation and find out if you are eligible to file a case, please call our toll-free number at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form located on this page.