Boston, Holt & Durham, PLLC

Medication error may have caused a wrongful death

Nurses perform many critical tasks concerning patient care in a Tennessee hospital setting and one of the most critical is the dispensing of medication. It is vital that the appropriate medication be given to the appropriate patient. To help ensure that this happens, nurses are obliged to follow the Five Rights of Medication. This involves verifying five pieces of information before a medication is administered: right medication, right dose, right means of administration, right time and right patient. Failure to observe these rules can end tragically with a wrongful death.

In a recent case at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a nurse administered a paralytic drug used in general anesthesia instead of a sedative intended to calm a patient during a CT scan. The drug that should have been administered was Versed. Instead the patient apparently received a fatal dose of vecuronium, which is a drug administered in small doses to keep a patient still during surgery.

The nurse had gone to the electronic medication devise that Vanderbilt, and many other hospitals, use to dispense medication. Unable to find Versed, the nurse entered 'VE' into the system's database and allegedly retrieved the first medication the system found, vecuronium. The nurse was reportedly speaking with a trainee and apparently failed to verify the contents of the vial and did not appear to adhere to the rules of the five rights before a fatal dose was administered to the patient.

Sadly, reports of this type of medical error are not rare. A study done by John's Hopkins states that medical errors are the third largest leading cause of death in the country, behind heart disease and cancer. People trust medical professionals to administer the care prescribed. If a person believes this has not been the case in the death of a loved one, one may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney in Tennessee to help determine if a case for a wrongful death lawsuit exists.

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