Update: Illinois nursing home to compensate family for fatal overdose

Earlier this month on our Joliet medical malpractice law blog, we had mentioned that a wrongful death claim against an Illinois nursing home was finally scheduled to go to trial. The lawsuit was filed in 2007 after a family lost their loved one who had died from a medication overdose. The family believed the fatal overdose error could have been prevented had nursing home workers properly administered their loved one’s medication.

According to reports, the wrongful death lawsuit is now resolved. After reviewing the case and listening to the family’s story of what happened to their loved one, a jury decided to award the victim’s family more than $270,000 in damages. The family’s loved one was only 66 when she died. The patient had been hospitalized for back pain in May 2006 and was transferred to a nursing home while she recovered from her hospitalization. The patient’s condition was expected to improve, but while treating the patient, nursing home workers made a fatal medication error.

The family argued that their loved one was given a fentanyl patch to treat her pain when she was admitted to the Illinois nursing home after her hospital stay. However, nursing home staff failed to notice that the patient was already wearing a fentanyl patch. This resulted in a medication overdose, and the patient suffered serious injuries. She did not survive her injuries from the overdose and died several days after the mistake was made.

The nursing home did admit that its workers should have never given the patient another pain reliever patch without first checking to see whether the patient was already wearing a patch or had been given other pain medications before leaving the hospital. However, the nursing home argued that this medication error did not contribute to the patient’s death. The nursing home claimed that the patient died from complications from other medical conditions. The court ruled otherwise.

Last week, it was reported that the jury awarded the victim’s estate $273,000 in damages. Damages include compensation for the victim’s loss of a normal life, pain and suffering, and medical expenses resulting from the error. Compensation was also awarded for the family’s mental suffering after losing their loved one to a preventable medical error. Although no amount of money can ever make up for a loved one’s wrongful death, this family has finally been able to obtain some justice.

Source: The Telegraph, “Jury awards $273,000 in woman’s death,” Sanford J. Schmidt, March 16, 2013

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