Medication errors are a common form of medical malpractice in Illinois and throughout the entire U.S. Drugs are prescribed to countless individuals every day, but when patients are given the wrong medication or are not properly monitored while taking a variety of medications, a patient could suffer serious complications or a fatal reaction to the administered drugs.
In one tragic medical malpractice case, a patient who had undergone a relatively simple knee-replacement surgery later died after she had a serious reaction to the combination of drugs she had been given. Hospital staff did not correctly account for the psychiatric drugs that the patient was on in addition to the drugs that were administered after her surgery. The costly medication error ultimately led to the patient’s death.
Because of its alleged negligence, the hospital was found responsible for the woman’s wrongful death and will be required to pay her survivors $2.4 million in damages.
According to the lawsuit, doctors performed a total knee arthroplasty on the victim at a Philadelphia-area hospital. The patient was given a prescription for morphine after the surgery to help stave off the pain and was instructed to take the morphine as needed. During that same visit at the hospital, the victim also underwent a psychiatric exam in order to update her prescriptions for three different psychiatric drugs.
But even though the patient was taking a combination of psychiatric drugs, painkillers and anesthesia, doctors did not monitor her any more intensely than normal after surgery. As a result, the woman’s blood pressure plummeted while she was on the combination of medications, but doctors were not able to catch the complication in time to effectively treat the woman. She was taken to the intensive care unit within 24 hours after her surgery and died 19 days later.
According to the victim’s family, the hospital and its staff failed on a number of fronts. The lawsuit states that hospital staff should have monitored the woman more closely because of the variety of medications the woman had been prescribed to take. The lawsuit also accused the hospital of failing to employ competent physicians and employees.
Source: Outpatient Surgery Magazine, “$2.4 Million Verdict in Drug Interaction Wrongful Death,” Mark McGraw, Oct. 26, 2011