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Setting The Standard In Personal Injury Law

Deceased woman's family wins wrongful death suit

After an individual undergoes a surgery, the patient's follow-up care and subsequent monitoring is performed by the medical facility's nursing staff. Patients and their loved ones count on the medical staff responsible for their care to be skilled and diligent. Any error can lead to serious repercussions and in some cases, even a patient's death.

Recently, a jury awarded $15 million to the family of a 45-year-old married mother after a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the hospital where she was being treated.

According to the suit, the woman went in to the hospital on Nov. 7, 2008 for diagnostic work. Later that same morning, she underwent a successful cardiac bypass surgery. But that evening, an overdose of a potent anesthetic was administered. Shortly after the drug was administered, the woman went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead.

A two-week trial later occurred and a unanimous decision from the jury found that the hospital was liable for the overdose that was administered. According to the family's legal team, an inexperienced nurse had come on duty less than half an hour before administering Propofol, the same drug that was tied to Michael Jackson's death.

Reports indicate that the nurse committed several medical errors during the care of the 45-year-old mother of three. While the woman's triple bypass surgery was a complete success, her post-op care in the Cardiac Recovery Unit was, according to her family, is what led to her death.

According to the plaintiffs, the nurse responsible for the administration of the drug and the hospital then tried to cover up the errors by discarding the leftover Propofol and the computer memory from the pump. Allegedly, a copy of the deceased's medical records retrieved by the woman's husband shortly after her death was different than the one that was issued after the lawsuit was filed.

Wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama illustrate that "all human life is precious and worthy of preservation." When a person's life ends due to another's lack of competence and overall negligence the law provides legal recourse for the surviving family members. Patients generally do not have the medical expertise to know when an error in treatment has been made during their care. They trust that their medical staff possesses the necessary skills to help them recover to the fullest. This is a case where that trust was violated and the jury held those responsible accountable.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Mobile Jury Returns $15 Million Verdict for Wrongful Death at Springhill Memorial Hospital," June 29, 2012

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