Doctors have to abide by an oath: Do no harm. However, hundreds of thousands of medical professionals injure or kill their patients every year due to their negligence.
Most are apologetic and learn their lesson, but not one Florida doctor. He gave a patient a powerful dose of painkiller that led to the patient’s death. During his testimony, the doctor unapologetically said he would do it again.
The jury was not impressed. They awarded the victim’s family — a wife and young son —a whopping $20 million in damages.
The victim, a 53-year-old investment banker, died in June 2020 after he went to Boca Raton General Hospital for a case of pancreatitis. To manage the pain, the doctor gave him a super high dose of an opioid called Dilaudid. Dilaudid is seven times stronger than morphine.
However, the man did not tolerate the drug well due to a history of obstructive sleep apnea. The condition causes the muscles in the throat and palate to close. This stops airflow and can cause complications when a person takes an opioid. Because of this, doctors need to ask patients if they have a history of sleep apnea before administering opioids. That did not happen in this case.
The doctor prescribed Dilaudid and continued increasing the doses, all without proper monitoring. He failed to monitor the patient’s vital signs using a telemetry monitor or a pulse oximeter. Expert witnesses testified at the trial and told jurors that this was below the standard of care.
The patient received Dilaudid all throughout the day on May 27, 2020. The following afternoon, he was found unresponsive in his hospital bed. His wife received a phone call two hours later. She was driving their 7-year-old son to a tennis court at the time.
The wife arrived at the hospital and said it was the worst feeling ever. Her husband was lying in the bed, unconscious. He was hooked up to a ventilator and other equipment.
The man’s heart had stopped, and although doctors were able to resuscitate him, he had already suffered irreversible brain damage. He was in a coma in the intensive care unit until his family removed him from life support. He died on June 4, 2020.
The doctor’s lawyers denied that the doctor was negligent. Since COVID was starting to become rampant at that time, lawyers suggested that the doctor was simply overwhelmed. But this did not explain the doctor’s lack of monitoring. If the doctor was so busy, wouldn’t it make sense that he would want to use a telemetry monitor or pulse oximeter to monitor the patient? After all, machines do not get stressed out.
Even an expert who testified in support of the doctor admitted that the doctor provided substandard treatment. The doctor did not believe he was in the wrong. He told jurors that he provided the type of care for the patient that he would want someone to provide for him.
The victim’s wife was upset during the trial. She wanted to stand up and scream, but she was warned by her lawyers not to do so. She was unable to look at the doctor.
The woman is not the first person to sue the doctor. In 2021, another patient accused the doctor of failing to recognize her infection. She deteriorated rapidly, leaving her with permanent injuries. Various doctors settled that lawsuit in Broward County for $250,000 earlier this year.
The doctor has been a licensed osteopathic physician since 2009. He has been a part of Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s medical staff since 2012. His medical license remains active.
Errors involving medications are some of the most common medical mistakes. More than 1 million Americans are harmed by medications every year. Many mistakes are caused by prescribing errors, in which a doctor prescribes the wrong dose or drug altogether. Sometimes drug names sound alike or the doctor prescribes multiple drugs at the same time, not knowing how the medications will interact with each other.
In this case, the doctor failed to get the patient’s medical history. The doctor did not know that the patient had a history of sleep apnea. Had he known, he likely would have chosen a different medication.
Contact Us Today
Doctors are well-trained and highly educated medical workers who should know how to provide patients with the best care possible. However, mistakes happen, especially when using medications.
If your loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, seek legal help right away. These cases can be complex and hard to win on your own. You need knowledge and experience on your side. That is where Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm comes in. We can guide you in the right direction and help you gather strong evidence to support your claims. Schedule a free consultation today by filling out the online form or calling (954) 876-4344. We have offices in Weston, Coral Gables, and Daytona Beach.