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California hospital blamed for fatal medication error

Painkillers are intended to provide relief from acute or chronic pain, but as powerful drugs healthcare providers need to be careful when prescribing and administering them. A careless mistake can cost the patient his or her life.

That is what the family of a California woman says happened to her. The woman died after being admitted to a hospital in the Fresno area. The woman’s daughter has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital, after a state investigation found that the attending medical staff failed to communicate about the drugs administered to the woman before her death.

According to KFSN-TV, the woman was admitted to the hospital with a stomach ache. The families attorney says that a nurse who examined the woman and failed to properly assess the patient’s level of pain. Another nurse gave her a narcotic for the pain, but did not to tell doctors or nurses that she had done so.

After receiving the dose, the woman stopped breathing and died The California State Department of Public Health later said that poor procedures at the hospital contributed to the death. The hospital says it has fixed those procedures.

Potentially lethal drugs need to be handled with extreme caution by doctors, nurses and pharmacists. They must be prescribed at the proper dosage, and mix-ups between similarly named drugs need to be avoided. When a medication error occurs, the patient can suffer serious, even fatal injury.