On May 18, 2016, an Alabama medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $20 million against a rehabilitation hospital that allegedly overdosed a patient with opiates, despite indicators that the patient was allergic to opiates, which ultimately resulted in her death at home four months later. The damages awarded by the Alabama medical malpractice jury were not intended to compensate for the loss of life, but rather to punish the defendant rehab hospital for its actions.
The woman was admitted to the defendant rehabilitation hospital on June 23, 2011 for what was supposed to be a two-week admission during which she would receive appropriate rehab care so that she may be discharged to her daughter’s home. The woman’s nurse found the woman in an altered mental state on June 30, 2011, after which she was transported to an acute care hospital for evaluation and treatment. The woman was examined at the hospital and was discharged back to the defendant rehab hospital after she was rehydrated.
On July 5, 2011 at 4:40 a.m., the woman was found in her bed unresponsive. Her oxygen saturation was determined to be 70%. The woman was transported back to the same acute care hospital, where she arrived in a coma. A urinalysis at the time of admission was positive for opiates and she was administered the opiate antidote, Narcan, to which she responded, which was indicative of an opiate overdose.
The woman was admitted into the ICU of the acute care hospital until her condition stabilized, after which she was discharged home. The plaintiff’s Alabama medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that despite the woman becoming stable after being admitted to the ICU of the acute care hospital, she had suffered permanent brain damage as a result of hypoxis encephalopathy after being given unprescribed opiates at the defendant rehabilitation hospital. The woman had impaired neurological and cognitive abilities from the time of her opiate overdose on July 5, 2011 until she died as a result of a cerebrovascular accident, on October 22, 2011.
The defense argued that there was no evidence of what type of opiate was given to the woman, when it was given, and by whom, therefore the defendant hospital should not be held responsible for the opiate incident(s). The plaintiff responded that the woman was in the sole care of the defendant rehab hospital at the time the opiates were given to her, as evidenced by the results of the medical testing once the woman arrived at the acute care hospital.
The Alabama medical malpractice trial was heard by a 12-person jury that began on May 9, 2016. The $20 million Alabama medical malpractice jury verdict is reported to be the largest Alabama medical malpractice jury verdict in the county in which it was rendered.
If you or a loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries in an Alabama hospital or in a hospital in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Alabama medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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