Morphine Overdose Of Patient Initiates A Lawsuit Against Doctor & Nursing Home

Screen-shot-2010-08-23-at-8_07_51-PMSometimes I see nursing home negligence cases where a facilities errors stem from the fact that staff fail to pay attention to an initial physician order or care plans developed by the facility for a patients care.  Perhaps the order itself was ambiguous, or perhaps the writing was illegible?  But what happens if a physicians order is just plain wrong?

Certainly, in cases where orders are ambiguous, illegible or downright suspect, it is up to the nursing home staff to clarify the orders with a supervisor at the facility or to take it upon themselves to confirm the order with the patient’s physician.  Put another way– staff can not leave their common sense at the door when implementing patient care.

Frankly, I was pleased to see a recent jury verdict in a case where the jury acknowledged that that nursing home staff can not pass the buck in all situations– even when the physician is partially at fault.

A California jury recently awarded a brain damaged woman $3.1 million in a case where the staff at St. Edna Subacute & Rehabilitation Center administered an overdose of morphine to a rehab patient who was recovering from a foot surgery.  The 57-year-old woman’s podiatrist has mistakenly prescribed 50 mg of morphine instead of the 30 mg of Demerol that he intended.

Even though the morphine dosage was unusually high and staff were similarly warned of the excessive dosage by a pharmacist, the staff at St. Edna took it upon themselves to administer the mistakenly prescribed drug.

Even after the woman became visibly ill from the morphine, the facility still made errors in delaying the implementation of medical care and taking the woman to a hospital.  The combination of the excessive morphine dosage was well as the delay in care resulted in the woman sustaining a brain injury.

The $3.1 million award was composed of $2.0 million for pain and suffering and $1.1 million in medical costs.  The jury furhter apportioned the nursing home 90% responsible and the prescribing physician 10% at fault.

In addition to the compensatory damages awarded above, the jury will also determine if punitive damages should be awarded based on the nursing home’s conduct.

St. Edna Subacute & Rehabilitation Center is part of Covenant Care, a large nursing home operator with 25 facilities throughout California.

Click on the links for information on nursing homes in San Diego , Los Angeles and San Francisco


Woman injured at O.C. nursing home gets $3.1 million O.C. Watchdog, August 19, 2010

Insulin Overdose Kills Nursing Home Resident

Fentanyl Overdose Leads To 1.6M Nursing Home Settlement

Study Reveals Nursing Home Patients Chronic Pain Is Not Adequately Controlled

Morphine Intoxication Of Nursing Home Patient Results In Significant Jury Verdict


0 responses to “Morphine Overdose Of Patient Initiates A Lawsuit Against Doctor & Nursing Home”

  1. Liz says:

    My Mother recently passed away. She was in a rehab facility and they gave her a crushed extended release 15 mg of morphine. SHe never woke up and passed away the following day. I do not know what the medical effects would be, but I know this was a mistake. Can anyone assist directionally on what to do?

Justia Lawyer Rating for Jonathan Rosenfeld

Client Reviews

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric