August 21, 2017
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St. Vincent Williamsport Hospital

The family of an Indiana woman who died after being administered multiple overdoses of potent opioid pain medication while a hospital patient has filed a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance alleging negligence and wrongful death. The complaint was filed against St. Vincent Williamsport Hospital Inc., after the woman died in September 2014 while under the care of the hospital’s staff during a stay where she was being treated and assessed for a potential hip surgery after a fall.

The medical records show that the hospital staff  administered at least two overdoses of a potent opioid pain medication, says the complaint, causing predictable respiratory depression that led to her death. According to the complaint, each overdose of the pain medication given to the elderly woman exceeded the ordered dose by 1,000% (or 10 times). As a result, the patient, who had not been on any opioid medications prior to her admission, went into a depressed respiratory state which led to her death, according to the complaint.

The patient was an active 89 year old woman who was still able to live at home on her own, according to the complaint.

The complaint further alleges that the patient was not ill when admitted to St. Vincent Williamsport, but rather was there seeking treatment for a hip injury she sustained after a fall at her home. The patient had been seen by an orthopedic specialist and was to have her cardiac health assessed and cleared for a possible surgery, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges that the treatment rendered to the patient was within the exclusive control of the hospital’s staff and that the occurrence causing harm to the patient is one which, in the ordinary course of events, would not have occurred without negligence on the part of the hospital and it’s staff.

“The hospital’s own records confirm that they significantly overdosed this patient multiple times before she died. It’s unfortunate that the hospital has refused to accept any responsibility for these tragic, repeated, and entirely preventable errors,” says Jeff Powless, one of the attorneys representing the family.

According to Indiana State Department of Health’s “Indiana Medical Error Reporting System” Final Report for 2014, the St. Vincent Williamsport Hospital did not report any  “deaths or disabilities associated with a medical error” and in fact reported no errors of any kind for the entire year. http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/Data_Tables.pdf 

 

 

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Indiana State Department of Health’s “Indiana Medical Error Reporting System” Final Report for 2014

 

 

It is estimated that medical mistakes, hospital contracted infections, and other substandard care contribute to the death of 180,000 hospital patients each year.  Deaths that could potentially be avoided if stronger patient safety measures were in place.

Interestingly, a study completed in 2012 by the Office of the Attorney General on the number of adverse events in hospitals for medicare patients showed that nearly 6 out of 7 hospital-based errors, accidents, and other usually preventable adverse events go unreported. http://www.the-hospitalist.org/article/most-adverse-events-at-hospitals-still-go-unreported/

In one study, which was published in the Journal of Patient Safety, it was found that fewer than 1 out of 10 acts of medical negligence were voluntarily disclosed to the patient.

Our investigation into this matter is still ongoing. If you are a former employee of the defendants and have any information or knowledge concerning any these matters, please contact us confidentially by calling 877-769-5377.

The proposed complaint filed in this matter with the Indiana Department of Insurance is a public record.


Additional Information:

6 Important Dos and Don’ts If You Suspect Medical Malpractice

Study Finds Medical Malpractice Often Hidden From Patients

The Powless Law Firm is an Indiana law firm that represents victims and families state-wide in serious cases involving nursing home neglect, medical negligence, personal injury and wrongful death. If you have concerns about medical malpractice or nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact us at 877-769-5377. Together we can make a difference.

 

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