$1,250,000 Settlement in Medical Malpractice Action Against Hospital for Overdose of Dilaudid

The plaintiff was a 52 year old married, mother of 2 children, business executive, who presented to the hospital for purposes of an elective hysterectomy. The procedure was performed without complications. In the recovery room, the plaintiff was provided with Dilaudid, a routine postoperative pain medication, through a PCA pump. Shortly after arriving on the surgical floor, the plaintiff was found unresponsive. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful and she expired. The cause of death by the medical examiner was cardiac arrhythmia. The plaintiff disputed the medical examiner's opinion because the examiner did not consider a Dilaudid overdose as a potential cause of death and because she had no heart abnormalities that could lead to an arrhythmia. Instead the plaintiff alleged that errors by the pharmacy and floor nurses led to a Dilaudid overdose which caused the death. The Defendant hospital vigorously defended the case claiming the medical records showed no evidence to support the overdose claim and that the plaintiff had a preexisting condition that made her susceptible to a sudden death. The case settled shortly before trial.