Philadelphia $3 Million Jury Award Upheld for Patient’s Fatal Pain Medication Overdose
A Philadelphia jury’s decision to allow a $3 million award to an 87-year-old woman’s estate has been upheld by the state Superior Court. The Legal Intelligencer reports that the woman was killed by an overdose of pain medication administered to her through her spinal fluid. The cause of the woman’s death was connected to an anesthesiologist’s failure to communicate his choice of giving the woman a spinal catheter instead of an epidural catheter. After receiving the pain medication, the woman experienced cardiac arrest and was left in a chronic vegetative state.
In Kessler v. Berman, the jury assigned 35 percent liability to the woman’s anesthesiologist and 65 percent liability to the nurse anesthesiologist. In addition, the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge included delay damages that amounted to over $227,000.
The woman had undergone successful knee replacement surgery in 2005 when she was given the pain medication overdose. The plaintiff’s expert witness testified that the anesthesiologist was responsible for communicating that he had used a spinal catheter instead of an epidural catheter. Testimony also emphasized the standard of care required of anesthesiologists, which includes ensuring that a patient’s caretakers know if there is anything out of the ordinary about a certain catheter or anesthetic. The panel also stated that devastating consequences can affect the well-being of a patient if the proper dosage for an epidural catheter is sent directly into the patient’s spinal fluid through a spinal catheter.
Patients trust that medical professionals will provide a high standard of care and carry out medical procedures properly and in a timely manner. The duty to communicate among physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff cannot be stressed enough. Victims of medical malpractice and their family members should not be intimidated by major hospitals or well-known physicians. When faced with the obstacles and life-changing consequences of a medication overdose or other typed of medication error, a Philadelphia medication error lawyer can be a tremendous help.