Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pennsylvania nurses fail to monitor medication pumps

It has been alleged that a Pennsylvania hospital incorrectly programmed pumps that dispense of pain medication, and this has led to at least three overdoses during the years of 2010 and 2011. As one patient received more than five times the required dosage of morphine, that individual died one day after surgery due such hospital errors.

A department report stated that the problems at the facility that led to these incidents were cumulative and systematic. No annual training was required of those operating such pumps and retraining of the nurses and their doctors on the use of such pumps did not take place until after the overdoses occurred.

Whether the overdose did or did not lead directly a patient's death remains unclear. Investigators found that this individual was administered 30 milligrams of morphine over a two-hour period instead of the 6 milligrams that were prescribed. Yet the coroner stated that the death was due to natural causes and made mention that the deceased man was morbidly obese with an enlarged heart. It is unclear why the investigator's report and the coroner's report come to such differing conclusions.

One thing certain is that patients should not have been exposed to the chance of an accidental overdose under any circumstances. Patients pay enormous sums for their medical care and should receive only the best care that medicine can provide.

Hospitals cannot take shortcuts when it comes to treating their patients. Such medical care facilities also cannot be excused simply because there were problems with medication pumps that they should have been monitoring. When such medical malpractice takes place, it is only right that hospitals and staff be held accountable by litigants and their attorneys.

Source: The Sentinel, "PA: Hospital error caused patient overdoses," Associated Press, Jan. 27, 2012

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