On December 3, 2014, a 65-year-old woman died from the serious injuries she suffered after she was given the wrong medication in an Oregon hospital’s emergency room on December 1, 2014. The woman’s family members were angered that it took the hospital several days to advise them about the medical negligence; they have not yet decided whether they will file an Oregon medical malpractice case as a result of the avoidable medical negligence that cost the woman her life.
The woman had previously undergone successful brain surgery in Seattle, Washington for the removal of a benign brain tumor from which she was expected to have a full recovery. She went to the Oregon hospital’s emergency room after she experienced anxiety and she had concerns regarding the medications she was taking. The hospital determined that the woman needed the intravenous administration of the anti-seizure medication fosphenytoin but she was given the medication rocuronium instead. Rocuronium is a powerful paralyzing agent used in conjunction with surgery that is administered before general anesthesia to relax the throat before a breathing tube is inserted and to keep patients still during surgical procedures. It works by blocking the signals between the nerves and muscles.
The woman stopped breathing after she received rocuronium and she went into cardiac arrest. As a result, her brain suffered from lack of oxygen that led to an irreversible brain injury. She was placed on life support, which was removed on December 3, 2014, after which she died.
The hospital is still investigating how the medication error occurred, reviewing the incident from the time that the medication was ordered through the time the medication was dispensed and was given to the woman. Three of the hospital’s employees are on administrative leave and are receiving counseling as a result of the incident. A medical spokesman for the Oregon hospital stated, “There are a number of steps in there. We’ve never had anything like this happen here. We are in the process of that analysis right now. Before we say exactly what happened, we’re going to make sure we’re accurate about. We do know there was a medication error. We acknowledge that. It’s our mistake.”
A November 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General entitled, “Adverse Events in Hospitals: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries” reported that of the nearly 1 million Medicare beneficiaries discharged from hospitals in October 2008, about 1 in 7 experienced an adverse event (approximately 134,000 Medicare beneficiaries experienced at least 1 adverse event in hospitals during the study period). Of those experiencing an adverse event, 31% of the events were related to medication.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm (or worse) as a result of a medication error in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medication mistake claim for you and represent you in a medical negligence case, if appropriate.
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