Nursing Home Negligence – Medication Error Resulting In Death

We represented the family of a loving 85 year old nursing home resident who died as a result of a medication error by the nursing home staff. Our clients had a tremendously close relationship with their mother, who despite her age was a very active nursing home resident. Testimony revealed that the daughters and other family members visited their mother every day at the nursing home. In 2015, nursing staff at the Columbia, Tennessee nursing home committed a medication error that ultimately cost the patient's life. The medication error occurred when nursing staff mistakenly believed that the resident’s Fentanyl narcotic pain patch had fallen off. Under this mistaken belief, they applied a second Fentanyl patch. The nurses were under a duty to follow certain protocol and contact the resident’s treating physician before placing another Fentanyl patch, but investigation revealed that they failed to do so, despite medical records indicating they did. Our research revealed that Fentanyl is one of the strongest narcotic pain medications in existence (over 50 times stronger than morphine) and can be deadly when not administered properly. As a result of this Fentanyl overdose, our client became unresponsive and suffered severe respiratory depression, which caused her to develop aspirational pneumonia. In addition to the nurses' negligence in applying a second Fentanyl patch, the nursing home staff failed to appreciate the abrupt change in condition to the patient after administration and failed to notify the family or attending physicians of the patient's condition.  The effects of the Fentanyl overdose and the delays in discovering something was wrong combined to ultimately cause the death of the patient. Because the nursing home denied any wrongdoing, we were forced to litigate the case. We retained multiple experts and took numerous depositions. Our attorneys deposed the nurse who applied the fatal Fentanyl patch, who was later fired by the nursing home.  In her deposition, she admitted to falsely charting that the resident's doctor ordered the second Fentanyl dosage. The case resolved prior to trial for a confidential amount.