A mistake administering medication has cost a patient their life and cost an Illinois nursing home $273,607 following a wrongful death jury trial. The nursing home negligence lawsuit was initiated by the family of a 66-year-old patient who was admitted to Rosewood Care Center for short-term skilled nursing care and control of her chronic pain. As part of her treatment, the staff at the facility were to administer a powerful narcotic known as Fentanyl which was to be administered via a patch placed on the skin. As per the orders from the patient’s physician, the patient was to receive one patch on her back for control of pain at a time.
In an obvious error, one of the nurses attending to the patient placed a second Fentanyl patch on the woman without realizing that there was already one in place. Shortly after the second patch was applied, the woman lost consciousness and was taken to a nearby hospital for what was believed to be a narcotic overdose.
Muddying the waters
Even though an error as blatant as using two very powerful Duragesic narcotic patches on a patient simply violates common sense– and the orders from a physician– and the woman’s death occurred shortly after its application– Rosewood still failed to accept the fact that the medication overdose was the cause of the woman’s death.
Rather, attorneys for the Illinois nursing home argued that the woman’s death was unrelated to the negligence of their employee. Blaming the patient’s declining health and a history of smoking, the facility argued that there was not sufficient causal connection to hold the facility responsible for her death.
Jurors using their common sense
One of the issues that frequently appears in nursing home negligence and medical malpractice cases is when the focus of the case veers towards complex medical theories as opposed to what ‘more likely happened than not’. Even in the most complex cases, jurors are typically admonished by the judge to utilize their common sense and life experiences when rendering an opinion in a case.
As a lawyer who has tried nursing home negligence cases, I typically find that adding an extra layer of complexity to a case rarely benefits the plaintiff and almost certainly plays into the hands of a facility as medical complexities usually divert attention from what really occurred. While I was not present at the trial above and cannot attest to the specific evidence presented at trial, I must applaud the jury for focusing on what the REAL issue was in the case as opposed to what the manufactured issues were as raised by the facility in their defense.
For more information about this fatal medication error involving an Illinois nursing home look here.