Patients in hospitals tend to be in a vulnerable state already. Whether they are suffering an infection, disease, or injury they are generally not in a state of mind to pay attention to the particulars of their care. Many just wanted to be properly treated for their condition and no longer in pain. Additionally, many patients do not know much about medication and rely on the medical professionals in the hospital to provide them with the proper medication in the correct amounts. However, medical professionals can make mistakes and these mistakes can be deadly.
One hospital in California has been fined $75,000 for the medication error that contributed to the death of a patient in 2011. The patient was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with sepsis resulting from pneumonia. A nurse mistakenly administered medication that lowers blood pressure when the prescribed antibiotics should have been administered instead.
Another nurse spotted the mistake after discovering an empty 100-milligram bottle of the medication that lowers blood pressure attached to the patient's intravenous tubing. Typically this medication was only given intravenously in small doses rather than as a drip, which was done in this case.
Due to the wrong medication being administered, the patient's blood pressure fell sharply. The prolonged low blood pressure led to kidney failure and gangrene of all his toes and two fingers. Facing a lifetime on dialysis and pain from the gangrene toes and fingers the patient just wanted to "go to sleep." The patient and his family then decided to cease treatment. The patient later died.
Since this incident of medication error, the hospital has re-engineered its process and put measures in place to ensure such a thing does not happen again. The medication that lowers blood pressure has been moved from an automated dispensing cabinet to a drawer with compartments that open only when a specific medication is selected. Additionally, the nurse who made the error completed a medication test as well as reviewed latitude on reducing medical errors.
When medication errors are made patients can be seriously injured. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury do to a medication error you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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