The decedent was admitted to a medical facility following difficulties she was experiencing at home caring for herself. When she was admitted, it was noted that she had a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and was taking Methotrexate once weekly for management of her condition.
The decedent was doing reasonably well until October 2011 when she developed a sore throat and swelling about her lips. It was ultimately discovered that instead of receiving her weekly dose of Methotrxate, she had been receiving the medication daily for 8 consecutive days.
The investigation revealed that the nursing supervisor had changed the time of the administration of her Methotrexate so that it would be consolidated with other medications she was receiving. In doing so, however, the nursing manager failed to notice that when she changed the time of the administration, the pharmacy computer’s software program defaulted to a daily administration.
The order was electronically delivered to the outside pharmacy, which failed to notice the error and instead, approved and filled the order. The following day, the decedent began receiving the first of her eight consecutive doses of this toxic medication. None of the nurses that administered the medication had checked the medical chart (as required) to confirm when the decedent received her last dose of the medication. Also, one of the nurses that administered the majority of the consecutive Methotrexate doses was unaware of the therapeutic dosing frequency of the medication.
Even when the decedent complained of a sore throat and lip swelling, none of the nursing staff investigated the cause, but rather administered Benadryl and Tylenol to aid with symptom relief.
Finally, following her eighth consecutive dose, the nursing staff realized their error and she was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, by the time she arrived, the extent of the overdose was severe and she was unable to recover.
From October 20 – November 8, the decedent remained in the ICU department. She was conscious during most of this time and endured significant conscious pain and suffering prior to her death.
The decedent was the matriarch of a very close Italian family and her loss was felt by all the family members, especially her daughter with whom she lived with for many years before being placed in the medical facility, and her two sons.
Claims were pursued against the medical personnel and facility involved in this systemic breakdown that allowed myriad errors to compound, resulting in the decedent’s untimely death. Claims were also pursued against the outside pharmacy that received and approved the order for the daily doses of the medication, based on the flaws in their computer software program that allowed for the inadvertent change from weekly to daily dosing when a change in the time of the administration of the drug was entered.
The parties engaged in pre-litigation discovery and then mediated the case. However, issues over the validity and effect of Indemnification Agreements between the defendants created insurmountable obstacles to the resolution of the case that day.
Ultimately, with the continued assistance of the mediator, the indemnification issues were resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, resulting in a settlement.
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