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Death of Billings man leads to medical malpractice claim

Errors by physicians can have tragic consequences. The relatives of a Billings man who died the day after he was discharged from the hospital know this all too well. The man died of a drug overdose allegedly caused by an opiate patch and other medications prescribed for him following surgery. The relatives estimate their damages total more than $14 million.

The medical malpractice lawsuit, filed in federal court in Cheyenne, Wyoming, says the 47-year-old man underwent surgery at a hospital in Cody. After the procedure, the doctor prescribed a medication patch containing Fentanyl, an opiate drug. According to the lawsuit, the drug manufacturer provides warnings with the drug which state that it should only be prescribed for patients who have taken opiate medications frequently, and that it presents a serious risk of death from depressed oxygen levels.

The man died at his home after he was discharged. An autopsy concluded that he died of an overdose of Fentanyl and other medications that were prescribed for him. The lawsuit names the hospital, a neurosurgeon and a physician's assistant as defendants.

Those who have lost a loved one due to a fatal medical error have the right to sue the medical personnel whose negligence caused the death. If the jury finds the medical professionals did not meet the accepted standard of care, the family is entitled to recover damages for their loss. Medical malpractice cases are complex and require testimony by expert witnesses as to the accepted standard of care and how the defendants departed from that standard. An attorney experienced in hospital negligence cases can help a family determine whether they have a good case.

Source: Great Falls Tribune, "Relatives of Montana man sue hospital over death," July 26, 2013

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