Post-Operative Drug Error Results in Wrongful Death

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A 54-year-old husband and father was admitted to a Kentucky hospital for a common orthopedic surgery. It was expected that he would stay overnight and return home the next day.

Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

Instead, following the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon wrote an order allowing narcotics to be given to the patient to manage his pain. The order was reviewed by the hospitalist attending to this patient’s care, and the medicine was administered by the hospital nursing staff.

Over the following 12 hours, the patient—who was diabetic and had kidney issues—was given the narcotics when other safer drugs may have been available. He was given the drug by the nursing staff, after receiving the permission of the hospitalist, and on the order of the orthopedic surgeon. However, he was not appropriately cared for during this time.

During that first night post-surgery, he received a high dose of narcotics but his vital signs such as his blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart were not monitored. He was found in cardiac arrest during the early morning hours. Instead of returning home as planned, he was pronounced brain dead. He died five days later.

He left behind his wife of approximately 30 years and a 10-year-old daughter. Not only did his wife and daughter lose their loved one, they also lost their financial security, since he was the family’s primary breadwinner. We worked hard to find physicians who would testify in this medical malpractice case and, a week before trial, we were able to settle this case and provide money to the family for counseling, schooling, and other damages.

Narcotics errors are frightfully common in Kentucky hospitals—but you can just as easily be harmed by receiving the wrong drug or dosage at your corner pharmacy. Health care providers are held to a high ethical standard of caring for their patients, and most medication errors are entirely preventable. If you or a family member has been hurt by a medication error, contact our Louisville law office by filling in the contact box on this page.