Trashed Kidney Leads to Suit Against UTMC

A part-time nurse from a university hospital threw away a kidney earmarked for transplant to a 24-year-old patient, prompting a medical malpractice suit against the hospital.

Donating a kidney to someone with end-stage renal disease is tantamount to giving the recipient a new lease in life, especially if it is a perfect match. This was what was supposed to happen to siblings Paul and Sarah Fudacz from Ohio. Sarah, 24 years old, was supposed to get a kidney from her brother to get her off the dialysis machine, but by some horrible oversight the newly-removed kidney was thrown out with the contents of a slush machine used during the extraction procedure at the University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC). The nurse has since resigned.

The Fudacz family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against UTMC, citing the pain and suffering the family had to go through from the wasted sacrifice and pain of Paul, the continued ill-health of Sarah, and the uncertainty of the family finding a suitable replacement kidney in time to save Sarah’s life. UTMC admits the error but maintains that the hospital did not have a substandard quality of medical care. There is some question whether the family has a legal basis for the claim under Ohio law.

UTMC has since stepped up the quality of health care and level of patient safety.

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Dangerous Drug Interactions

Medications, whether they’re over-the-counter or prescription, can be lethal if combined incorrectly. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are at risk of death because they are unaware of the dangerous drug interactions they may be exposing themselves to. This is why it’s important not only for pharmacists to explain these dangers, but for patients to understand and avoid them.

The most common example of a deadly prescription interaction involves SSRI antidepressants and pain killers. Mixing SSRIs and prescription pain medicine can cause a reaction called serotonin syndrome. Its symptoms include euphoria, restlessness, delirium, shivering, and diarrhea. If serotonin syndrome goes undetected and untreated for too long, it is lethal. Considering around 27 million Americans take SSRIs, the chances that a deadly interaction could happen are extremely high if patients are not educated about their prescription.

According to the Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis, $144 million out of the $3.6 billion dollars in malpractice payouts in 2012 were medication related. Pharmacies and pharmacists are held to a certain duty of care to ensure that patients receive the correct prescription and information about how to use their medication. Despite this duty of care, an estimated 51 million prescription errors are made each year. The most common types of pharmaceutical error, as cited on the website of Scudder and Hendrick, involve:

  • Dispensing the incorrect medication strength or dosage
  • Dispensing the wrong drug
  • Confusing prescriptions between customers
  • Failing to give proper utilization instructions
  • Failing to warn against dangerous drug interactions

It is important to educate yourself about your prescription medication in order to avoid becoming a victim of malpractice. Always talk to your pharmacist about the side effects of a new medication, as well as what to avoid while taking that medication in order to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk.

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