Near $1 Million Award in Unauthorized Palliative Care Death

A Harford County jury recently awarded nearly $1 million to the estate and surviving family members of a woman who allegedly received excessive pain medication following a leg ulcer surgery.

According to reports regarding the case, the plaintiffs alleged that the doctors at the Harford County Hospital administered morphine, oxycodone, and other narcotics to the woman under the mistaken belief that they had received permission to provide palliative care to the woman, rather than attempting to strive for the woman’s full recovery. The hospital reportedly denies the allegations of negligence, and plans to appeal the judgment.

While only very limited factual information was reported regarding this case, it seems that the family is alleging that the hospital administered a form of unauthorized palliative care, which resulted in the death of the patient. Palliative care is distinct from assisted suicide, and as such is protected by U.S. Supreme Court case law. Essentially, it occurs when caregivers can no longer perform additional or helpful medical procedures to improve the patient’s prognosis, so they instead focus on alleviating the pain as best as they can. Oftentimes, these high levels of pain medications can lead to death.

While this case provides an example of a medication error, it is also an example of a negligence case, though not necessarily medical malpractice. Medical malpractice focuses in on whether the doctor (or other healthcare professional) performed his or her duties in a manner consistent with how other similarly qualified professionals within a certain geographical area would be expected to perform under the same or similar circumstances.

In this case, however, the allegations seem to center on whether or not the consent of the patient’s family was truly gathered, and therefore whether the palliative treatment was negligent without having obtained that necessary consent.

In order to determine whether the doctor’s actions were legally culpable, the jury likely heard testimony or reviewed documents, such as consent forms or policies and procedures in order to reach their determinations. There may have also been expert testimony from doctors who were not involved in the case.

If you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of a medication or pharmacy dispensing error or medical malpractice, contact the experienced Maryland personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. Our lawyers have extensive experience in advocating on behalf of individuals who have been harmed by medication errors, whether they were improperly prescribed, dispensed, or administered. Additionally, our law firm has successfully represented individuals against hospitals, nursing homes, families, doctors, assisted living homes, and other medical professionals and facilities in medical malpractice cases. Contact us today by calling us at (800) 654-1949 or through our website, in order to schedule your complimentary initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Defective Blood Glucose Monitor Test Strips Pose Major Potential Risk to Diabetics, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published August 29, 2013
Mother Sues Pharmacy over 6 Year Old Daughter’s Death in 10x Correct Dosage Case, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published August 22, 2013

Contact Information