Following a three week trial, jurors in Michigan awarded the family of a deceased nursing home patient $4.85 million.
The nursing home negligence lawsuit alleged Mercy Memorial Nursing Center was negligent in administering morphine, a commonly prescribed pain medication, to a man who was admitted to the facility for physical therapy following a non-displaced hip fracture.
A coroner’s report concluded that the man died from ‘morphine intoxication’– essentially an overdose of the medicine.
According to the lawyer representing the nursing home patient’s family, the facilities poor charting was probably to blame for the man’s morphine overdose. “The document stuck out like a sore thumb. It clearly shows morphine was unaccounted for on his chart,” the lawyer added.
Like many nursing home negligence cases, this case has a long history. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2005 only to be dismissed and reinstated by the Michigan Appellate Court. Further, the man’s wife died during the pendency of the matter– making the juries decision even more impressive.
Morphine is an opiate pain medication commonly used for nursing home and hospital patients recovering from trauma or to alleviate chronic pain. Morphine requires a doctors prescription. Due to the strength of the medication, it generally is taken under medical supervision.
Indications of a morphine overdose or morphine intoxication that require medical attention include:
- Fixed pupils
- Nausea, vomiting
- Severe constipation
- Low blood pressure
- Muted pulse
- Discolored fingers and lips
- Shallow breathing
Nursing homes that administer morphine and other drugs to patients must do so in a safe manner. This means administering the specific medications according to the dosages and frequency prescribed by a physician. Further, facilities must keep an accurate accounting of every dose given to a patient.
Unfortunately, many medications look very similar and some staff administering the medications are not familiar with the patients. Many times this results in serious injury or death of the patient.
If you believe your loved one was harmed due to a medication error in a nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital, we would be honored to speak with you regarding your legal options. As always, there a never a charge to speak to our lawyers and we only earn a fee if there is a recovery for you. (800) 926-7565
For laws related to Michigan nursing homes, look here.
Family wines $4.85 million for nursing home death, Toledoblade.com, June 29, 2010