When Pain Medication Turns Fatal

pain medication overdose

Health System, Intensive Care Doctor, Pharmacist, and Nurse All Sued for Giving Excessive Doses of Powerful Pain Medicine

An Ohio hospital system has been at the center of intense scrutiny after one of its former intensive care doctors is said to have ordered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of “comfort” pain medicine for at least 27 near-death patients over the course of several years. One family is suing the health system as well as the doctor, pharmacist, and nurse responsible for allegedly giving an improper dose of fentanyl to their 79-year-old family member even though they had asked that lifesaving measures be stopped. Fentanyl, also known as Actiq, Duragesic or Sublimaze, is an especially potent painkiller used to treat extreme pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strains of fentanyl can be up to 50 times more powerful than morphine.

Although the hospital, part of the larger Mount Carmel Health System, has since acknowledged the doses in many similar patient cases were larger than needed. A legal team will now investigate as to whether the acts were intentional, and if the lethal drugs were possibly used improperly to accelerate the patients’ deaths.

The hypersensitive act of physician-assisted death, when doctors prescribe medications in life-ending amounts to terminally ill patients, is illegal in Ohio. According to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, only five U.S. states including California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Colorado allow the practice.

The doctor in this suit has been fired and 20 employees, including pharmacists, have been removed from patient care pending further investigation.

Medication Errors Are a Leading Cause of Hospital Deaths

Sadly, medication related injuries and medical malpractice incidences happen regularly and not every instance will result in such a lawsuit. In fact, a doctor or health care professional must be proven negligent in prescribing a medication or incorrect dosage. This can be a complicated process which requires assistance from a knowledgeable attorney. Those who were violated will need to show that the medical standard of care in their specific instance was indeed violated, with proof of how they, or the loved one they represent, were harmed as a result of the act. The use of an expert medical witness and careful investigations will be necessary.

The Legal Team at Levin & Perconti Can Help Your Family

If you believe that your loved one has suffered from a medication related injury or wrongful death due to a failure by medical staff, they may be entitled to compensation and we are here to help. All consultations are free, and we work on a contingent fee basis so there are no related costs for our services unless we successfully resolve your case.

Call us at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872 to speak with a lawyer. You may also contact us online through our website to set up a case evaluation consultation with an experienced medical malpractice or wrongful death attorney.

Also read: Patient Safety Survey Shows While Illinois Improving Overall, Some Hospitals Struggle

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