The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cites adverse drug events (ADEs) as one of the most common types of inpatient errors, affecting approximately 5 percent of hospitalized patients.  The Department defines ADE as “harm experienced by a patient as a result of exposure to a medication.”  In medicine, a preventable ADE occurs when “the medication error reaches the patient and causes any degree of harm.”  In law, Berkowitz and Hanna LLC knows that when a preventable error is caused by negligence or recklessness and results in death, it is considered a wrongful death.

In a recent Waco, Texas case, former hospital chaplain Daniel Gann has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center and nurse Natisha Chanyta Brigham, alleging that a preventable adverse drug event caused the death of his wife. On October 5, 2011, 35-year-old Sarah Gann was admitted to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center (now Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center), complaining of lower back pain that was “similar to a kidney stone.”  The following day, Gann was still in great pain (10 on a pain level scale of 1-10) and suffering with dizziness and nausea.  The lawsuit alleges that patient chart notations made by the attending nurse indicated that Mrs. Gann was in no pain, contradicting the doctor’s notes indicating that the pain level was “10/10.”  The suit alleges that the hospital and personnel administered lethal doses of pain medication to Mrs. Gann.  Litigation is pending.

Berkowitz and Hanna LLC points out that medical negligence cases are significant in that they serve to highlight problems within the healthcare industry. The expectation is that through hard lessons learned and legal verdicts, solutions will be sought to improve the quality of healthcare in this country.

Note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent any of the parties in this case.

Photo by Andy Melton via Flickr.com.