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Massachusetts General Hospital admits fault in overdose case

We mentioned in an earlier post that the family of a 76-year-old woman sued Massachusetts General Hospital after the woman died from an overdose of the blood-thinning medication Lepirudin. Massachusetts General Hospital has since admitted fault in the woman's death, the Revere Journal reports.

The lawsuit alleges that hospital doctors and nurses committed malpractice and were completely negligent in treating a routine infection. The woman was given a dosage of blood thinner that was approximately 30 times too high and bled to death over a 12-hour period at the hospital.

The Revere Journal reports that the hospital admitted that it made a preventable mistake and that the hospital revised its policy concerning the administration of the blood thinner Lepirudin.

"We take all adverse events very seriously," a hospital spokeswoman said. "When they occur, we strive to learn as much as we can about them and use the information to strengthen our systems to prevent similar events from happening in the future."

The spokeswoman also added that the hospital was working with regulatory agencies that were investigating the woman's death.

The woman worked in the Revere City Auditor's Office. The Revere City mayor said that the woman was a "very well-liked" and a responsible city employee. Most of her coworkers believed that she was in good health and were shocked when she died.

"From what I've read, it was an awful mistake," the mayor said. "I think everyone was shocked at the suddenness of her death last November. This suit provides some explanation for something that at the time seemed inexplicable."

Source: Revere Journal, "MGH Admits Fault in Accidental Death of City Hall Worker", Seth Daniel, 3/16/11

2 Comments

The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ) is now producing an annual report on the quality of health care and the presence or absence of any improvements. The first statement is what health care is supposed to be:
“Health care seeks to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease and to improve the physical and mental well-being of all Americans. Across the lifespan, health care helps people stay healthy, recover from illness, live with chronic disease or disability, and cope with death and dying. Quality health care delivers these services in ways that are safe, timely, patient centered, efficient, and equitable.”
The second paragraph is telling us like it is:
“Unfortunately, Americans too often do not receive care that they need, or they receive care that causes harm. Care can be delivered too late or without full consideration of a patient’s preferences and values. Many times, our system of health care distributes services inefficiently and unevenly across populations. Some Americans receive worse care than other Americans. These disparities may be due to differences in access to care, provider biases, poor provider patient communication, and poor health literacy.”
This report, available for free download at http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/nhqr10/nhqr10.pdf is a comprehensive detail written in understandable language. It contains excellent data and identifies the root causes of the ills of health care, complete with patient safety issues and disparities driven by socioeconomic status. This is a comprehensive statement by the Federal government regarding standards of care in making the distinction between preventable and non-preventable deaths and survivable injuries.

There are many other areas of medical malpractice that would entitle you to claim compensation including hospital acquired diseases, the transmission of contaminated blood and the issue of incorrect prescriptions.

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