A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of a 30-year-old veteran who allegedly died from a medication overdose following surgery. The lawsuit claims that the man’s death was a direct result of the negligence of staff at Veteran Affairs Medical Center.
The parents of a military veteran who died a few days after his back surgery allege that their son was sent home from the hospital prematurely and have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Department of Veteran Affairs.
On October 19, 2010, the victim entered the hospital in order to have an electronic stimulator implanted in his back. Following the surgery, he was to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days, however, he was discharged the very next day following surgery, despite experiencing breathing problems, pain and dangerously low oxygen levels.
The victim graduated from high school in 1998 and went on to volunteer in the U.S. Army after the attack of 9-11, serving in the Airborne Infantry in South Korea and Louisiana. In 2005, he received a medical discharge from the U.S. Army after injuring his back, according to the complaint.
Upon his return home, he enrolled in community college to study criminal justice in the hopes of becoming a police officer, like his father, once his back healed. He was treated with pain medication and underwent two surgeries, one of which involved implanting a temporary electric stimulator in his back.
On October 19, 2010, he underwent a third surgery at VA Medical Center, during which a permanent electric stimulator was implanted. He had expected to spend at least 2-3 days in the hospital following his surgery, the complaint states.
The following day, even though his blood oxygen levels were not stable, the surgeon discharged him, according to the court filing. His roommate, an Emergency Medical Technician, asked that if the victim must be sent home, at least send him home with oxygen or, because of his sleep apnea, a CPAP machine. They were told to contact his regular physician, according to the lawsuit. The patient was given a prescription for morphine, in addition to the seven other prescriptions physicians at VA Medical Center had previously given him for pain and migraines.
It is alleged that the victim told the surgeon that he was uncomfortable being sent home so soon and, according to the complaint, was told it was better for him to leave than risk “getting staph or pneumonia here.”
The patient continued to express his concern to his roommate and to a nurse, telling them he felt “they are kicking me out to make another bed for another patient. I am afraid of leaving so soon.” But he was sent home.
By the following afternoon, the patient felt ill and began vomiting. He declined going to the Emergency Room and went to sleep at about 9:30 p.m. His roommate observed him sleeping soundly around midnight. She found him dead at 7:00 a.m. the following morning.
An autopsy concluded that the victim died from “an acute mixed drug intoxication involving his prescription medications.”
The lawsuit claims that the victim would not have died had he stayed at the hospital longer or if he was sent home with oxygen or monitoring devices.
A spokesman with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs said the Department does not comment on pending litigation.
This unfortunate death could have been prevented. If the allegations set forth by the decedent’s loved ones are true, then the death could have been prevented.
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