Massachusetts Malpractice Lawsuit Filed Over Medication Error

A medical malpractice lawsuit has been filed against a Massachusetts hospital that has admitted to giving a woman a lethal dose of blood thinner medication. 

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed last month by the family of Geraldine Oswald, who died in November 2010 from a Lepirudin overdose at Massachusetts General Hospital. The hospital has admitted that a medication mistake led to Oswald, 76, receiving 30 times the recommended dosage.

The complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court on March 10, alleges Oswald went to the hospital to have an infection treated. A nurse entered the wrong dosage into an automated IV, causing the blood thinner overdose. Oswald bled internally over a 12-hour period in Massachusetts General Hospital before dying.

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The lawsuit was filed against the hospital, five of its doctors and two nurses. It charges the hospital with negligence that led to Oswald’s death.

Following the incident, the hospital released a statement saying that it acknowledged the mistake, apologized to the family and was making changes in its procedures to prevent similar accidents in the future. Included among the procedural changes will be how doctors approve and check drug infusions.

The state health department is still investigating the circumstances of Oswald’s death.

The family says that the lawsuit’s intent is to force changes that guarantee similar mistakes will not be repeated.

Lepirudin is a generic name for Refludan, a Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc. drug which was approved by the FDA in 1998 for use as a blood thinner.


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