Family of Patient Receive Settlement After Medication Error Mix-Up

The family of a New York man who suffered from end-stage COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) received a high six-figure settlement following a hospital's administration of the improper medication that ultimately led to his death.  The man was admitted to the hospital for overnight evaluation following experiencing shortness of breath.  Following his admission, he was placed into a room with a cancer patient.  That patient was supposed to receive a dose of Oxycontin for pain.  That dose was mistakenly given to the plaintiff, a dose that caused the man to experience immediate respiratory distress.  Subsequently, the mediation Narcan, a medication that helps combat respiratory distress was not administered  by nurses for over 3 hours despite a physician calling in such an order. Within 8 hours of the Oxycontin administration, the New York was able to catch his breath, was placed on a ventilator, and died.  The lawsuit alleged that the hospital was negligent in administering the wrong medication, failing to administer proper palliative medications and failing to place the man on a respirator earlier.  

Medication errors generally fall into one of several categories:  prescription errors, dispensing errors, medication administration errors and/or patience compliance errors.  Generally speaking, all hospitals and pharmacists should have in place organization systems for administering, ordering, and dispensing medications.   For example, before dispensing a medication in a non-emergency setting, a pharmacist should review an original copy of the written medication order and participate in a self checking process in reading prescriptions, labeling the prescription and dosage calculations.   Pharmacists should never guess or assume the intent of a confusing medication order.  The physician and pharmacist must communicate in those situations to avoid an error.  Medication prescribers, such as doctors, should evaluate the patient's total status before ordering a new medication so as to ensure that the new medication will not adversely interact with medications the patient is currently taking.  Moreover, health care providers should work to ensure that the dosage level for each medication is correct and will not adversely affect the patient or the existing medications of the patient.   When it comes to dosage amounts, one of the more common errors is a physician who orders 0.5 milligrams of a medication but neglects to include the zero and the dosage is misread by the dispensing pharmacist as 5 milligrams, a potentially fatal error under the right medication circumstances. 

At STSW, our medical malpractice / medical mistake /catastrophic injury lawyers routinely handle cases involving medication errors / failing to administer timely medications / failure to monitor cases in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area.  Our team has successfully handled cases against both hospitals and pharmacies in the area in which medication errors have led to serious medical complications for our clients, complications which in some instances have occurred for years without the medication error being corrected.   If you or a loved one have been victimized by such a medical mistake, call our lawyers for a free consultation at 410-385-2225 or visit our website to set up a free consultation.