Case #1008: Medication Errors
On July 19, the Plaintiff was admitted to the Defendant Hospital through the emergency department for treatment of a fractured ankle related to a fall. As a part of the Plaintiff’s admission assessment, it was noted that the Plaintiff enjoyed drinking wine during the evening hours. Her admission laboratory values included an alcohol toxicology screen which was negative. Additionally, her Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV), an indicator of alcoholism, was likewise negative. Further, on July 20, there were absolutely no clinical signs of alcoholism or withdrawal, and she enjoyed a CIWA-Ar (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol) scale score of 3, which is minimal and certainly not indicative of any alcoholism.
Nevertheless, the Defendant Hospital’s personnel determined to give the Plaintiff 25 milligrams of Librium every 8 hours starting on July 20, for alcohol. Amazingly, that order was changed on July 21, to 50 milligrams every 4 hours.
As a result of the infusion of Librium, the Plaintiff became combative and agitated, requiring restraint during the early morning hours of July 22. Due to the infusion of Librium, as well as Haldol, the Plaintiff required transfer to the special care unit on July 22, where she became obtunded and unresponsive on July 23. The Plaintiff was unable to recognize family members, was unable to obey commands, or respond to health care providers. Additionally, she suffered with aspiration pneumonia due to the effects of the contraindicated drugs, which created a depressed mental status and inability to control secretions and/or have normal reflexes. Finally, the Plaintiff manifested signs and symptoms of encephalopathy. The Plaintiff was ultimately discharged to a chronic care facility for extensive rehabilitation on August 30, where she remained until October 2, when she was finally discharged to her home in a severely and totally disabled condition.
The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant’s personnel administered contraindicated medication, causing permanent and irreversible brain injury and disability.