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Medication mix-up caused patient's death, hospital confirms

New York residents might take interest in a case out of Oregon where a hospital reportedly admitted to causing the death of a 65-year-old woman through a medication mix-up. The medical error happened at a health care facility in Bend, where the patient died on Dec. 3, according to authorities.

Authorities reported that the patient, who was intended to receive fosphenytoin, an anti-seizure medication administered intravenously, instead received a dose of rocuronium by employees at the hospital. The affects of rocuronium, a paralyzing agent mostly administered to patients undergoing surgery, caused the woman to cease breathing, which in turn led to cardiac arrest and severe brain damage, purportedly.

The 65-year-old patient died a few days following the medication mistake, when she was removed from life support. Moreover, the hospital, which is conducting an internal investigation into the incident, temporarily dismissed three of its medical personnel with pay on account of the incident. Through its own investigation, hospital officials said that they plan to find the cause of the accident. That investigation remains ongoing, reportedly.

About 210,000 to 400,000 individuals die yearly from needless hospital mistakes, according to the Journal of Patient Safety. While hospitals are tasked to improve a patients' health, critical errors made out of negligence or carelessness can be deadly, as this particular case demonstrates.

Families in New York affected by fatal hospital errors may wish to discuss the tenability of a medical malpractice claim with an attorney. Health care professionals are expected to meet a standard of care, the failure of which may constitute civil negligence. Claimants who succeed to prove medical negligence in a case related to the unnecessary death of their loved one may be compensated for damages.

Source: CBS News, "Hospital medication error kills patient in Oregon", December 04, 2014

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