All it takes is being one decimal off. One quick reading of a scribbled script. One pump too many.
Medication errors in New York City are far too common, despite the fact that many health care providers have (or should have by now) enacted measures to significantly curb the risks.
It’s especially egregious when the patient has seemingly done everything possible to ensure that health care providers know about a potential problem – and yet it happens anyway.
This is what allegedly happened in the case of Shuler v. Garrett, which was recently reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The lawsuit, originally filed in Tennessee, involved the death of a woman with a known allergy to heparin, which is a drug often used to help prevent blood clots.
The woman was aware of her allergy. Her doctors were made aware of her allergy. A notation was made in her medical charts. She even wore a bracelet, noting the allergy.
And yet, while receiving treatment at a nearby hospital, medical staff at the facility repeatedly injected her with the drug. She was given a heparin injection shortly before her death. Her cause of death was later attributed to that injection.
Her relatives filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and health care providers at the facility for negligence and medical battery. In Tennessee, it is possible for medical professionals to be sued on the basis of medical battery, which has to do with failure to obtain a patient’s consent before carrying out certain procedures.
That was the primary issue involved in the case: Whether there was enough evidence upon which the medical battery assertion could stand. Ultimately, the federal appellate court reversed earlier rulings, finding that there was plausible evidence that medical battery had been committed.
Medication errors in New York are a serious problem. Back in 2000, the state health department overhauled its patient occurrence reporting and tracking system to include a better accounting of the issue. From that point on, the state’s 294 hospitals were required to electronically report medication errors within 24 hours of detection.
Subsequently, a 2005 study published in the journal “Advances in Patient Safety” found that nursing was the No. 1 discipline involved in medication errors, and elderly patients were most often the subject of harm.
Of those reported in that five-year time frame, 18 percent resulted in permanent harm. Nearly 50 percent resulted in near-death incidents. In 23 percent of the cases reported, patients died.
Many health care facilities and doctor’s offices today use digital programs that will alert to potential overdoses or negative drug interactions. Such systems can help to significantly reduce medication errors, but as long as human beings are involved, the risk can’t be eliminated completely.
Given the seriousness that can result from medication errors, it’s imperative that those who have been injured by such mistakes immediately contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Shuler v. Garrett, Feb. 14, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Timely, Proper Filing of Medical Malpractice Claim is Critical, Jan. 8, 2014, New York City Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog