Medication Error Killed Ex-Soldier

Patients trust physicians with their lives. However, as our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys note, medical professionals often make errors, either unintentionally or out of pure negligence. Negligence appears to be the issue in the case of a former soldier with persistent back issues who underwent treatment at a Utah hospital. A Deseret News article reports that the ex-soldier’s doctors are accused of killing him with an overload of painkillers after a surgical procedure about two years ago.

The soldier just wanted the physicians at the hospital to cure his back issues so that he could fulfill his desire of becoming a police officer like his dad. Unfortunately, he died an undeserving death, unable to fulfill his desire.

The victim joined the army after 9/11. He was stationed in Louisiana and South Korea prior to medical discharge seven years ago, due to a back injury. He had a third surgery in 2010 to place an electronic stimulator permanently in his back. Though he anticipated he would have to be in hospital for a few days, he was discharged the very next day. This was despite the fact that he was suffering from sleep apnea, had oxygen level issues, and was still in severe pain.

The soldier even revealed to his roommate, an emergency medical technician, his fears at being discharged so soon. He felt he was kicked out to make his bed available to another patient.

Following his departure from the hospital, the man became extremely sick and vomited a number of times. His roommate, who stayed beside him to keep a watch on his breathing and pulse, heard him snoring loudly in his room around midnight. When the roommate checked on him the following morning, he was dead.

The state medical examiner’s office concluded that the severe mixed drug intoxication involving the victim’s prescription medications resulted in his death. All of the medication in his body was within acceptable limits at the time of his death.

The lawsuit claims that if the victim was kept in the hospital for a longer period of time, sent home with oxygen, or given a monitor that would make his roommate aware if his breathing stopped, he wouldn’t have died. It seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

In other news involving medication errors, a recent article in Pharmacy Practice News revealed that medication errors frequently occur at the time of medication administration. This conclusion came from the results of a survey that intended to acquaint healthcare facilities with the trends and patterns associated with medication mistakes and to offer suggestions for improvement.

For the purpose of the survey, healthcare facilities were asked to furnish a minimum of 10 medication events over a five-week period. Close to 70 percent of the medical events submitted happened in the administration phase. Errors in dispensing came second (about 16 percent) followed by prescribing (8.5%) and monitoring (7.8%). 90 percent of the occurrences were categorized as “incidents” which means that the slips actually reached the patient, whether or not they caused harm. Approximately half of the occurrences affected patients in the age group of 18 to 84.

The report also found that of those events classified as administration-only mistakes (320 in number), close to 40 percent were related to IV drug regimens, 18 percent to oral administration and only 7.8 percent to subcutaneous injection. It offers suggestions for safe IV practices that concentrate on improving systems instead of the current, more common approach of concentrating on human performance.

A large number of patients were administered IV medications in an intensive care setting and a lot of these medications had to be given in different doses and different timings. Because of these factors, the risk for error was greater.

No patient deserves to be a victim of medication mistakes. Victims of medication errors or any other form of medical malpractice need to contact a medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about their legal rights and file a medical malpractice claim.