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Was nursing negligence ultimately responsible for father's death?

In 2013, a man lost his father, who was only 56 years old at the time of his death. As many Oregon residents do after the death of a loved one, he went through his father's home. He found an inordinate amount of prescription narcotics. Further inquiries led to the family filing a nursing negligence suit against the nurse practitioner who prescribed the medications and the facility for which she worked.

A review of his father's medical records raised concerns regarding the medications he was prescribed. As it turns out, the nurse practitioner responsible for the man's prescriptions was recently convicted of receiving kickbacks from a drug company in exchange for "pushing" a powerful painkiller on patients. She is due to be sentenced before the end of the year. In this case, she is accused of over-prescribing narcotics to the patient and ignoring certain medical issues he developed, such as addition to narcotics, cirrhosis and internal bleeding, along with gallbladder disease.

On Jan. 14, 2013, the Connecticut man underwent gallbladder surgery. He went to the emergency room four days later due to surgical complications and was prescribed an antibiotic and sent home. On Jan. 25, it was discovered that he was suffering from sepsis and by Feb. 2, less than three weeks after the surgery, he died from organ failure brought on by that infection. The medical professionals involved in his surgery were also named in the suit, along with the hospital.

The surgical complications may have been the immediate cause of this man's death, but his family believes that the nurse practitioner's actions were the beginning of a downward spiral that did not have to occur. This family's investigation into his death went beyond the obvious surgical issues to find the source of his physical decline. If the court in that case rules in the family's favor, they could receive not only monetary judgments against anyone who contributed to or caused his death, but also a sense of justice and closure.

It is not always doctors or surgeons who are culpable for an Oregon patient's death. Nursing negligence can lead to the same fatal consequences as physicians' errors. Therefore, they can and should be held responsible for their actions as well.

Source:, "Family of late Meriden man files medical malpractice suit", Mary Ellen Godin, July 10, 2015

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