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Opioid use may be cause of many “dead in bed” cases


Hospital patients in Oregon who are prescribed opioid painkillers may be at risk for serious injuries. Opioids can significantly suppress a patient’s respiratory system, which can the brain of oxygen. Some medical experts believe that fatal medication errors involving opioids are contributing to the increasing number of ‘dead in bed” wrongful death lawsuits.

Over the last decade, around 50,000 hospital patients have died or suffered a serious brain injury due to lack of oxygen related to opioid use. The vast majority of ‘dead in bed” medical malpractice cases have been found to be preventable. Researchers believe that cases like these may be prevented if patients’ oxygen levels are continuously monitored electronically. Although continuous electronic oxygen level monitoring is readily available, few hospitals use this technology.

One ‘dead in bed” case in Ohio involved a woman who was taken off life support after suffering a severe brain injury. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed against Akron City Hospital, the woman’s respiration had declined to critical levels when she was injured. Although the hospital would not comment on the ongoing hospital negligence case, it did confirm that continuous electronic monitoring is not routinely provided for every surgical patient.

The family of a patient who was seriously injured or killed due to hospital negligence may want to work with an attorney to pursue a medical malpractice claim. A family may want to talk to a lawyer even if they are unsure whether or not hospital negligence was to blame for their loved one’s injuries. An attorney may be able to investigate a family’s concerns by looking into the patient’s medical records.