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Hospital negligence cited in patient's horrific death

Residents of Pitt County may be interested in a recent California incident that calls into focus the issue of hospital malpractice. An employment dispute has been brewing for some time between Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and its nursing staff. The frustrated nursing employees walked out for a one-day strike on September 22. Rather than permit the nurses to return to work the following day, the hospital retaliated by locking the nurses out for five days. Temporary replacement nurses were hired to work during the lockout. It is alleged that this labor dispute led to a horrific hospital error.

According to police, one of the replacement nurses is said to have administered to a cancer patient a non-prescribed dosage of a medication known to be lethal in the manner in which it was applied. As a result of the hospital error, the patient died on the second day of the lockout. Hospital officials have acknowledged the patient died due to a "medical error," but have not further discussed what actually occurred. The Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Coroner are continuing to investigate.

The patient's spouse of more than 30 years is now left to grieve this senseless and tragic loss. Understandably, he will also want answers. In Pennsylvania, the law recognizes the right of a victim's estate to recover damages for medical malpractice, including hospital and nursing errors. Those suspecting that substandard medical care may have caused a patient's serious injury or death would do well to consult a Pitt County attorney focused on helping those affected recover the damages they deserve, while holding negligent parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, "Hospital patient recalled as kind, outgoing," Demian Bulwa, Sept. 27, 2011

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