Medication errors injure approximately 1.3 million people annually and cause at least one death every day. Common causes for medication errors include poor communication, ambiguities in product names or directions for use, and patient misuse because of poor understanding of the directions for use. Many times, these serious or fatal injuries can cause victims and their families to seek compensatory or punitive damages.
Jonathan Bell was recovering from a stroke at the American River Center in Sacramento, California, the nation’s largest nursing home chain. While at the facility, Bell was given a deadly dose of morphine by one of his nurses. Allegedly, American River Center feared sanctions for giving him the wrong medication and they tried to cover up their mistake by refusing to take Bell to the hospital. When Bell realized that he took the wrong medication he notified the nursing staff. The nursing staff failed to taken any action, however, and Bell fell into a catatonic state for over 24 hours, without receiving any medical attention.
Even Bell’s roommate begged the nurses to take him to the hospital. The nurses refused and Bell’s roommate eventually called an ambulance on his own accord. At that point, Bell had been unresponsive for over 20 hours. The nursing staff turned away the ambulance when it arrived at American River Center. After a few hours, the staff decided that Bell then needed medical attention and called its own ambulance. Unfortunately, Bell died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
According to Courthouse News Service, Bell’s daughters and granddaughter have sued the nursing home’s owners, including Brittany Healthcare Center and Sunbridge Brittany Rehabilitation Center. The family alleges that while Bell was a patient in the nursing home, he lost 30 pounds and fell nine times. Bell’s daughters contend that the nursing home was understaffed and that the nurses often failed to properly monitor his condition. The family also alleges that the nurses failed to remedy their medication error because they hoped Bell could make it to his dialysis treatment the next afternoon. Numerous complaints have been filed against the facility in the past. The family is seeking punitive damages for elder abuse, wrongful death and willful misconduct. Rob Cartwright and Brian Lance represent the Bell family.