State Cites St. Luke's Hospital for Failing to Protect its Patients

According to a State Department of Health report, nurses at St. Luke’s Hospital on three occasions in 2010 and 2011 improperly programmed patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps. A PCA pump is a computerized pump that contains pain medication that is connected directly to a patient’s intravenous (IV) line. Typically, the pump is set to deliver a small, constant flow of pain medication with the patient having the ability to self-administer additional doses. Other times, a patient can control when he or she receives pain medication without the patient receiving a constant flow.

The Department of Health report stated that hospital employees told investigators that the hospital did not require annual competency training on the pumps. In June 2011, a 38-year-old man died after receiving five times the amount of morphine that had been prescribed for him. In addition to two other patients overdosing, the state investigators also said that in these and other cases, nurses failed to properly document the errors properly. The report said that “[a]ny adverse drug reaction shall be immediately noted on the medical record of the patient in the most conspicuous manner possible, in order to notify everyone treating the patient throughout the duration of his hospitalization … and thereby prevent a recurrence.”

On November 17, 2011, state health officials declared a state of “immediate jeopardy” at St. Luke’s, defining immediate jeopardy as a situation in which the hospital’s failure to follow proper procedures “has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to a resident or patient.” Health officials remained on-site until the hospital developed a plan of correction.

Medication errors are among the most common medical mistakes, harming at least 1.5 million people every. If you or a loved one has sustained serious injury or death as a result of a medication error, give us a call to see if our medical malpractice lawyers can help you.

To read the full story on the St. Luke’s investigation click: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-stlukes-overdose-20120126,0,3862084.story

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