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Estate of 93-year-old woman sues for hospital malpractice

Those who practice personal injury law in Louisiana know that the life of an elderly person is not worth as much in a wrongful death case as the life of a younger person with many more years left to work at the time of death. As society itself matures, however, it may learn that there are many non-monetary aspects of a person's remaining life that may be recognized in an award for damages. There were recent reminders of that issue when the daughter of an elderly decedent sued a hospital for medical malpractice after her mother died from receiving an improper procedure.

The decedent was 93 years old two years ago when a hospital nurse failed to follow proper protocol in giving the patient a powerful narcotic. She died from respiratory failure after receiving excessive doses of Dilaudid, morphine and possibly other narcotics. The state also investigated and issued a finding of wrongdoing by the hospital.

Apparently, the woman came to the defendant hospital with a stomach ache and died from the narcotics administered, according to the daughter's attorney. More specifically, it is alleged that the nurse failed to assess to her pain level and document it, and the nurse administered a powerful narcotic without telling the doctor or co-workers about it. Although the case is still in litigation, the hospital issued a statement affirming that it took corrective measures in response to the investigation by the state of California Department of Health.

The estate's attorney did not say the amount of the claim demanded in the lawsuit. He did, however, state that such lawsuits are necessary to prevent hospital malpractice and to assure that our elderly citizens are not devalued in the health care system. He indicated that the mere fact that the victim is elderly did make her a "throwaway" person. The same general principles would likely be applied to the case if it was litigated in Louisiana.

Source:, "Clovis Community Medical Center sued for malpractice in elderly woman's death", Gene Haagenson, Aug. 12, 2016

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