An Oregon woman died after a hospital administered the wrong drug to her following brain surgery. She had gone to the hospital with a question about her dosage, and a doctor prescribed an anti-seizure medication. However, instead she was given a paralyzing agent that caused her to have a cardiac arrest and fall into a coma.
The woman developed irreversible brain damage, and on Dec. 2, she was removed from life support. Three employees are on paid leave and an investigation is underway, but it is not yet clear at what point the accident occurred. The investigation is looking at the ordering of the medicine as well as the mixing, packaging and labeling at the pharmacy along with its delivery and administration.
According to studies, the number of patients whose deaths are attributable to hospital error annually is in the hundreds of thousands. One estimate put yearly deaths due to preventable errors as between 210,000 and 400,000, although the Department of Health and Human Services says that such deaths declined from 2010 to 2013. The chief clinical officer at the hospital in this case says the hospital has never been in this position before. The woman's family say they have not yet decided whether to file a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit is one option for a family in a case like this. In some cases, dependents might be left behind who need support. In other cases, there may be outstanding medical expenses. A civil lawsuit may be successful if it can be determined that medical professionals did not provide the requisite standard of care and made a medical mistake. In some cases an attorney for the plaintiffs may be able to achieve an out-of-court settlement.
Source: CBS News, "Hospital medication error kills patient in Oregon," Dec. 4, 2015