NC Hospital Held Responsible for Veteran’s Death

October 10, 2017
By Rhine Law Firm, P.C.

Jason Powell, a 20-year Army veteran, arrived at the Asheville VA Medical Center complaining of flu-like symptoms. It was determined that he had diverticulitis and a bowel perforation and he was admitted to the facility.

When his wife visited the hospital, she was informed that her husband had been abruptly moved to the ICU after it was discovered that he was not breathing. Several hours later, Powell was pronounced dead, leaving his wife and three children.

Did a Medical Error Cause His Death?

Powell was being prescribed Dilaudid in the hospital, a powerful narcotic that is similar to morphine. Medical records showed he was to receive a 1 mg dosage every four hours. He was apparently administered 4 mg doses two separate times. It is believed that the dosage caused him to suddenly stop breathing.

His wife has said that a physician told her that the two 4 mg dosages had been administered in error; however, the medical center never formally stated it was responsible. The family brought a medical malpractice suit. Dr. Carl Bazemore, who managed the ICU, stated in his deposition that he could not confirm that the death was an overdose, based on the timing of the second dose. Bazemore felt that the autopsy, which cited a heart attack as the cause of death, was likely correct. The lawsuit was resolved by an out-of-court settlement, which did not specifically assign fault to the hospital.

After the incident, a hospital spokesman expressed sadness for the family’s loss and reiterated their commitment to providing quality care. US Treasury Department records indicate that the VA paid roughly 2,500 claims in medical malpractice cases over the prior five-year period, totaling over $9 million.

Major Error at a Hospital in Georgia

Non-VA hospitals are no stranger to errors, either. In 2014, a 26-year-old woman received a prescription to lamotrigine. Shortly after using the medication she developed blisters throughout her body and her skin was described as “burning and melting.” She endured traumatic pain and was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare condition stemming from an allergy to the medication. She brought a civil suit after spending five weeks in the hospital, where her skin continued to “peel.” She has lasting effects including loss of her fingernails, no functionality in her sweat glands, and problems with vision.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in New Hanover County

Rhine Law Firm, P.C., has been pursuing justice on behalf of North Carolina victims in medical malpractice actions for several decades. We have the experience and resources to uncover issues such as never events, surgical errors, birth injuries, prescription errors, and failures in diagnosis.

You may have a limited time to bring a claim, so contact our office at (910) 772-9960 for a free consultation today.

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