A Columbus hospital and its surrounding community have been torn apart by revelations that a doctor gave lethal doses of pain medication to 27 patients as they lay incapacitated in their hosptial beds. Even worse, a number of other medical professionals have been implicated in the investigation.
The revelations came to light after a concerned employee made a report, prompting an internal investigation. The doctor in question has been fired — and another 20 hospital workers have been suspended from patient care until further notice.
The hospital has been unable to explain how so many patients were given lethal doses of medication without triggering a failsafe sooner in the system. Any time a grossly excessive dose of medication is ordered, internal alarms should prevent it from reaching the patient. For example, the hospital pharamacist who filled the drug order from the doctor should have noticed the unusually large doses. Hospital nurses in charge of administering the doses should also have noticed that the dose was dangerous.
At least three wrongful death lawsuits have been filed on behalf of bereaved relatives. One involves a 64-year-old woman who died after receiving a combination of fentanyl and a sedative after the doctor told her husband she was brain-dead. Another involves the death of a 44-year-old man. The third centers around a 79-year-old cancer victim. An attorney speaking for one of the victims expressed what many have thought, saying, “This is not just a simple situation of an error,” but an intentional act.
Some people have already speculated that the medications were delivered as acts of euthanasia. While euthanasia is legal in six states, Ohio is not one of them.
The number of incidents discovered indicates that the hospital failed — deeply — in its responsibility toward its patients. Safeguards can’t just be put in place “in name only.” The hospital has to be proactive about making sure that nobody can play loose and free with patient lives.
If your loved one fell victim to medical malpractice, find out more about your legal rights. Don’t assume that you don’t have a case, no matter what the health of your loved one prior to the incident.