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Family awarded $958K after hospital staff over-medicated patient

In hospitals and other medical facilities, communication is extremely important. Doctors and nurses must check and double check that they have the right information for the right patient at all times. While many hospitals have a system in place to ensure adequate communication between health care workers, sometimes they forget that they must communicate thoroughly with the patient and his or her family too.

As some Pennsylvania families may know firsthand, when doctors fail to communicate with the patient and his or her family, the results can be devastating. Sadly, a situation like this happened a few years ago and ended in tragedy and heartbreak. 

In February 2010, a woman in Harford, Maryland, went to a hospital to get treatment for leg ulcers. After her surgery, however, things went terribly wrong. 

For some reason, doctors thought the woman's family had given them permission to begin treating her like a hospice patient. In reality, the woman's husband and sons wanted doctors to continue looking for a way to treat her.

Doctors gave the woman oxycodone, morphine and other narcotics after her surgery. Ultimately, the woman died from excessive medication.

As anyone in Pennsylvania would have the right to do, the woman's family sued the hospital for medical malpractice. Recently, a jury awarded them $958,000 in damages. 

This tragic incident should serve as a harsh reminder to hospitals across the country that communicating with patients and their families is of the utmost importance. No one deserves to have to deal with the death of a loved one because a doctor or hospital staff member failed to ask the right questions. 

Source: Baltimore Business Journal, "Harford jury awards $958K in medical malpractice case," Aug. 13, 2013

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