Attorney Mark W. Tanner recovered $1.5M for the family of a man who was receiving opioid medications for migraine headaches as an inpatient in a northeastern Pennsylvania hospital when he went into respiratory arrest and died. Tanner contended that the hospital ignored their own policies to monitor such patients, and failed to watch his oxygen levels through the use of pulse oximetry. As a consequence, due to the medications he was being administered, this man went into respiratory arrest while unobserved, and was discovered unresponsive when the nurse finally did go in to check on him. Initially, the coroner had ruled it a sudden cardiac death, but after being confronted with the evidence of the case, the cause of death was officially changed to “Combined Effects of Dilaudid and Valium”.
As a consequence of this case, there have been changes in the hospital policies regarding the monitoring of such patients, and hopefully, future patients will enjoy greater protections. This is the third case Tanner has handled in the last 3 years involving respiratory arrest in an inpatient hospital setting due to prescribed opioid medications.