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Woman dies of medication error after surgery

While a 45-year old woman's cardiac bypass surgery appeared to be a success, hospital officials did not anticipate a post-op error that was to be made just a few hours after the surgery took place. An evening nurse administered anesthesia called Propofol, and the patient soon after died of a cardiac arrest.

A jury apparently felt that the nurse was not qualified to administer the anesthesia as it returned a $15 million verdict on behalf of the patient's family. The nurse likely was guilty of a number of medical errors while administering the Propofol - the most serious being a medication error that resulted in an overdose of the powerful anesthetic.

The nurse was a relatively new employee in the Cardiac Recovery Unit of the hospital. She failed to provide mechanical ventilation to the patient as is required, had received no training in the use of Propofol, did not call for the assistance of a physician when the patient's vital signs were coming up as abnormal, and she likely attempted to cover up her actions in an attempt to alter the medical charts.

The Propofol that was administered caused the patient to fall into an immediate coma. The patient was only supposed to have been given a light sedation, but instead was given an anesthetic dose of the Propofol. There was also evidence that the hospital may have participated in the alteration of the medical records as well. Records produced appeared to be different from the medical records that had earlier been produced.

This incident didn't occur in Ohio or Kentucky, but mistakes such as this have been known to occur in our hospitals as well. Too often, medical facilities do not take the time to properly train employees.

When patients or family members suspect that medical mistakes have been made, it is generally helpful to contact a medical malpractice attorney. By holding medical providers accountable, such facilities can then do a better job training its employees in the future. Hopefully, this will alleviate many mistakes.

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

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