A doctor, pharmacist and nurse in a Columbus, Ohio, hospital stand accused of giving a fatal dose of fentanyl, a narcotic painkiller more potent than morphine, to an elderly woman in order to hasten her death. According to allegations made in a wrongful death lawsuit -- and admissions by the hospital -- that patient may have been one of 26 patients total that were given excessive doses of the drug as they lay dying.
The wrongful death claim filed by the survivors of a 79-year-old patient who died on Dec. 11, 2017. With her condition terminal, her family had requested no more life-saving measures and wanted nothing more than "comfort care." However, they allege that the doctor ordered a 1,000 microgram dose to be administered through the woman's IV line -- an amount that has been called "grossly inappropriate and excessive."
However, the doctor could not have acted alone. The hospital pharmacist should have realized that the drug order was too large and flagged it or refused to fill it. The nurse in charge of the patient, also, should have known that the dose was too high. Neither challenged the doctor's order. A dose that high could not have provided any therapeutic value and would only serve to hurry the patient toward death. In fact, the patient died just a few minutes after the dose was administered.
Now, the hospital itself seems to be admitting that this was actually a widespread issue and has issued a statement regarding the issue. The doctor has been fired and 20 other employees have been put on leave.
Many people believe that you can't file a wrongful death claim over someone that was already terminally ill, but that's a mistake. Even if a patient was in hospice or on palliative care, a lawsuit is possible if the actions of a doctor or others hastened that patient's death.
If your loved one was the victim of a doctor's negligent, reckless or deliberate act of malpractice, don't stand idly by. Talk to an attorney about the possibility of a wrongful death claim in order to hold the doctor accountable for his or her actions.