A 75-year-old patient died in agonizing pain after she was accidentally administered a fatal dose of the wrong medication last year in Tennessee.
The horrific mix-up has led the unidentified victim’s family to file a wrongful death suit and launched an investigation into Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee.
The deadly mistake took place on December 26, 2017 when a nurse, who remains unidentified, was treating a patient who was admitted to the hospital for headaches, swelling of the brain, vision loss, and other related symptoms.
A 75-year-old female patient died in agonizing pain after she was accidentally administered a fatal dose of execution drug Vecuronium on December 26, 2017 (stock image above)
The victim was stable and was scheduled for a PET scan. Prior to the scan a physician ordered she be served two milligrams of Versed, a drug used to treat anxiety, according to Fox17.
But the nurse accidentally gave the patient 10milligrams of Vecuronium, which is used as a muscle relaxant during surgeries.
It’s also used as a part of lethal injection drug cocktail for prisoners sentenced to death to paralyze inmates and stop their breathing.
‘The nurse who went to retrieve the Versed in this case instead retrieved the lethal injection drug. It’s the drug used in the lethal injection protocol in Tennessee and other states to execute murderers and serial killers,’ Brian Manookian, the Nashville attorney handling the case, said to WSMV.
The nurse reportedly had difficulty finding Versed in the medical cabinet and retrieved the bottle of Vecuronium after typing the first two letters ‘VE’ into the hospital’s computer system.
The patient was moved to the PET machine right after she received the drug so her symptoms went unnoticed.
The paralytic drug likely kept the patient conscious as she endured pain. The dose was so large that she suffered cardiac arrest leading to her death several days later.
‘She would have fully experienced torturous, searing pain as her lungs shut down and she was unable to verbalize what was occurring being fully awake and aware the entire time,’ Manookian said.
Another nurse at the hospital flagged the medication error the same day and doctors were then informed of the mistake.
The patient was treated for another day before she was deemed beyond help and brain dead and taken off a breathing machine. She then died the following day, two days after the drug was administered, according to the Tennessean.
And according to a report, the incident was never reported to the Tennessee Department of health.
The fatal error led to an investigation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which could have potentially cut the Medicare insurance program from the hospital.
The patient’s family launched a wrongful death suit, according to The Sun.
An onsite survey was conducted from October 31 to November 8 of this year.
The horrific incident took place at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee and led to an investigation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
‘She would have fully experienced torturous, searing pain as her lungs shut down and she was unable to verbalize what was occurring being fully awake and aware the entire time,’ attorney Brian Manookian said
The survey found ‘the hospital failed to ensure all patients received care in a safe setting and staff followed standards of practice and utilized their nursing skills and training to ensure the correct medications were administered to all patients’.
Furthermore the survey found the hospital ‘failed to ensure patients were free from neglect’, according to the report.
Now the hospital must submit a ‘plan of correction’ to prevent similar mistakes from happening.
Vanderbilt released a statement in light of the survey.
‘In reviewing the event at the time it happened, we identified that the error occurred because a staff member had bypassed multiple safety mechanisms that were in place to prevent such errors. We disclosed the error to the patient’s family as soon as we confirmed that an error had occurred, and immediately took necessary corrective actions (including appropriate personnel actions),’ John Howser, Chief Communications Officer of VUMC, said.
‘We will continue to work closely with representatives of Tennessee Department of Health and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assure that any remaining concerns are fully resolved within the specified time frame,’ he added.