Fort Wayne Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer and Attorney Blog

Opioid Painkillers for Recovering Surgery Patients Resulting in Deaths and Serious Injuries

By Jack FarnbauchJanuary 17, 2017

An alarming trend in hospitals is starting nationwide. Research by some of the nation's most respected physicians is indicating an increase in medical malpractice lawsuits related to hospital patients being found "dead in bed."

“Dead in bed” refers to patients who have undergone successful surgery and who are recovering in their own rooms on a general floor and then die suddenly and unexpectedly, often within hours. After a successful surgery, the patient’s risk level is judged to be the absolute lowest but they are usually given dangerous opioid painkillers. Opioid painkillers can suppress the respiratory system to critical levels, which deprive the brain of oxygen and are believed to play a significant role in the rising number of these "dead in bed" cases.

Medical experts estimate at many as 50,000 patients have been impacted over the last ten years from these “dead in bed” type injuries involving opioid painkillers--many resulting in death and serious brain injury. 

The question becomes then, how can these types of injuries be prevented? The same study found that "dead in bed" cases can be reduced by employing what is known as continuous electronic monitoring of a patient's oxygen level, including a technique known as pulse ox monitoring. Without some sort of monitoring, these cases will continue to be a problem nationwide. 

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