Hospitals have safety rules in place that can have many names: rules, policies, procedures, protocols, the list goes on and on. The important thing to remember is that these rules are in place for patient safety. The rules may describe situations where the patient's condition is such that it is not safe to give a drug. The hospital safety rules will say that under certain conditions, a patient is not to receive a certain drug.
In situations like this, doctors sometimes choose to ignore the patient safety rules and order that a drug be given to a patient when it is not safe to do so. If the patient has an adverse reaction, the hospital, the doctor and the nurse administering the drug may be liable for harms suffered by the patient. If the patient dies, the hospital, the doctor, and the nurse administering the drug may be liable for harms suffered by the family due to the patient's death.
We currently are handling a case involving a drug given to stroke patients called tPA, which is also known as alteplase or activase. TPA is a clot busting drug. When a patient is suffering symptoms of a stroke, under the appropriate conditions as outlined by the patient safety rules, a doctor may order tPA so "bust" the clot causing the issue. All hospitals, as well as the drug manufacturer warning, say not to give tPA when the patient's blood pressure exceeds a certain threshold. Our client's blood pressure was over the threshold and the doctor ordered tPA contrary to hospital patient safety rules and the drug manufacturer safety rules. After the tPA was given, the patient died due to excessive bleeding in his brain caused by the tPA.
The basic argument in the case is: Is the patient safety rule that says "do not give tPA if the patient's blood pressure is over 185 systolic" required to be followed to ensure patient safety? (our position) or do the patient safety rules represent guidance but leave room for doctor and nurse discretion? (the typical defendant's position).
At Wolff & Wolff Trial Lawyers we have handled hundreds of complex medical malpractice cases.
Often times, it can be very difficult to determine if medical negligence has occurred. You are entitled to know answers that are concise, truthful and accurate. If you believe that you have suffered from another's negligent acts, feel free give us a call.