On October 19, 2015, an Oregon medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of a 56-year-old man who suffered a massive and permanent brain injury as a result of a medication overdose in an Oregon hospital following a surgical procedure.
When the man developed ventricular fibrillation following bicuspid aortic valve replacement surgery, the surgeon ordered a dose of 150 milligrams of amiodarone, which is a drug used to restore normal heart rhythm; instead, he was massively overdosed with 2,700 milligrams of amiodarone.
An anesthesiologist employed by the hospital misread the surgeon’s order for 150 milligrams of amiodarone and administered 2,700 milligrams (the anesthesiologist evidently believed that the three vials of amiodarone that he administered to the man contained 50 milligrams each but the vials actually contained 900 milligrams each). The medication vials were obtained from the hospital’s automatic dispensing system that the hospital’s director of pharmacy testified during trial was the result of a hospital system failure.
As a result of receiving 18 times the ordered dosage of amiodarone, the man suffered severe and permanent brain damage that left him with loss of function and will require that he receive extensive medical care and life-care services for the rest of his life.
After a three-week trial, the Oregon medical malpractice jury awarded $6,445,500 in economic damages to compensate the man, who is the father of five children and who worked in a local factory before his injury, for his past and future medical expenses and his loss of wages and earning capacity. The jury also awarded $5,750,000 in noneconomic damages to compensate him for his loss of enjoyment of life and his pain and suffering.
The Oregon medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant hospital was 60% responsible for the man’s injury, that the defendant physician who administered the massive overdose of medication was 25% responsible, and that the defendant anesthesiology practice was 15% responsible. The defendants have not indicated if they intend to appeal the Oregon medical malpractice jury’s verdict against them.
A spokesperson for the defendant hospital issued a statement on behalf of the hospital after the Oregon medical malpractice jury rendered its verdict, stating, “We know [the man] and his family are facing difficult circumstances, and our hearts go out to them. Out of respect for the family and the continuing legal process, we are unable to comment further about the case at this time. [The hospital] takes patient safety very seriously. [The hospital has] a strong record of adherence to national standards, and participate[s] in voluntary surveys of our quality and safety standards every year.”
Clearly missing from the defendant hospital’s prepared statement is any acknowledgement of its responsibility for the man’s catastrophic injury or that it contributed to the harm suffered by the man or his family.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm (or worse) as a result of a medication error in Oregon or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice attorney in Oregon or in your state who may investigate your medication mistake claim for you and represent you in a medical negligence case, if appropriate.
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