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Medication Error At Nursing Home Causes Brain Damage

A jury this week awarded $3.1 million dollars plus still-to-be-determined punitive damages following a nursing home lawsuit, according to the Orange County Register.

Barbara Lefforge was literally at the St. Edna Subacute & Rehabilitation Center for half a day-only 5 ½ hours-before they made a costly medication error that nearly ended Barbara’s life. She was at the facility to recover from tendon repair surgery. Her doctor erroneously prescribed 50mg of morphine, instead of the 50 mg of Demerol. The nursing home personnel at St. Edna’s were alerted to the mistake by the pharmacist, noting that the dosage was too high. Nursing home staff members were unable to get the full dosage from the pharmacist, but they didn’t take that as a warning sign. Instead, they grabbed 30mg of morphine from the office’s emergency medication kit and gave that to Barbara.

The negative effects of the overdose were visible shortly after Barbara took the medication. However, instead of taking her to get treatment immediately, nursing home staff did nothing. She wasn’t brought to the hospital until the following morning when she was barely breathing. By the time they arrived the damage had accelerated; the delay resulted in brain damage.

St. Edna’s is owned by Covenant Care, a conglomerate which owns 25 separate facilities in the state. St. Edna’s did not have a track record of prioritizing patient safety. They were previously one of only a handful of nursing homes that accepted extra state money, $15 million, while cutting staff and services at the same time.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti continue to be saddened by the basic breaches of care at nursing homes. Failing to understand the risks of morphine overdose on top of an inability to rush a distressed individual to the hospital are mistakes that all too often have deadly consequences. The only way to hold these facilities accountable and ensure that future residents do not fall victim to the same abuse is to force the business to pay for its errors and make changes to ensure that the problem is corrected.