Florida wrongful death lawsuits stemming from suspected medical malpractice by way of excessive medication doses are more common than we’d like to believe. Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys know that medical errors like these can result from ineffective charting procedures, inadequate oversight, poor staff training or staffers simply making an error and not following protocol.
A study by Johns Hopkins University found that more a quarter of a million people in the U.S. die every year as a result of medical errors, and medical researchers said the actual figure could be as high as 440,000. Even the low estimate puts it at No. 3 for leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. Medication overdose is what killed a two-year-old child in 2006 after an area pharmacist accidentally gave the child 20 times the recommended dose of sodium chloride. It was the girl’s last chemotherapy visit. She died three days later in Cleveland, Ohio. The pharmacist later served six months in jail for involuntary manslaughter.
Now in that same state, different hospital system, an intensive care doctor has been fired and nearly two dozen other employees have been placed on leave, including pharmacists and nurses. The Associated Press reports it all stemmed from the doctor who ordered dozens of patients be given potentially lethal doses of pain medication over the course of several years. Doses for another half a dozen patients were reportedly larger than necessary to simply provide comfort for the patients, but probably isn’t what caused their deaths.
Medical malpractice wrongful death attorneys know one of the questions authorities are examining is whether the doctor was ordering these larger-than-necessary doses of medications with intent (possibly to illegally/without the family’s knowledge?) and also whether nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals failed to acknowledge the safeguards for approving and administering medication.
Family members for at least 16 of those former patients have filed wrongful death lawsuits alleging medical malpractice, with some complaints raising questions as to whether staffers improperly ordered/administered the drugs in an effort to hasten patients’ deaths absent their knowledge. For example in on instance, a 67-year-old was allegedly given a deadly dose of fentanyl, ordered by the doctor in question, administered by a nurse in July 2016.
In another case, plaintiffs say the chief pharmacy officer for the unit knew employees were prescribing, approving and administering medications that were excessive, yet the pharmacy officer did nothing to intervene. In that case, representative of decedent’s estate reported the patient, an 82-year-old woman, was given a dose of pain medication that was excessive and as a result died just minutes later.
Although these cases took place out-of-state, Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys know they underscore how a single physician or lack of oversight procedures can potentially cause significant harm. An analysis published in 2016 in the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives noted adverse drug events account for more than 3.5 million doctor visits and 1 million emergency room visits a year. Preventable medication errors reportedly impact 7 million patients and cost roughly $21 billion, with nearly one-third of patients hospitalized having at least one discrepancy in discharge medication reconciliation.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Hospital tightens drug access, rules after excessive dosages, Feb. 12, 2019, By Katele Franko, Associated Press
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